People are understandably worried about Covid-19 and hand washing and other general advice is important.
However, there is also something we can do to bring our immune system up to scratch, apart from a healthy life style. We can make sure we are not vitamin D deficient.
Unfortunately living in Scotland puts us all at risk of deficiency, mainly because we don’t get enough exposure to outdoor sun, we live and work indoors, have long winters, and a northern latitude. Our diet contains little vitamin D.
A large meticulous study from 2017, published in the British Medical Journal, showed a significant reduction in respiratory tract infections when people were given vitamin D. In fact one reviewer called it a “magic bullet”. The biggest benefit was in those with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D. (1)
Could this be our opportunity? One third of people in Scotland are severely deficient, in some areas nearly 50 per cent, particularly at this time of year. (2)
Getting sufficient vitamin D might therefore help our immune system to fight off the new respiratory coronavirus. That way maybe more people could be in the mild category, rather than the severe.
The UK NHS recommended some while ago that all of us take vitamin D supplements, for bone health. We should remind ourselves of this advice but it might be wise to take a slightly larger dose than the NHS recommended 10 mcg (good for babies, but not for a much larger adult).
It is safe, cheap, up to 100 mcg daily is acceptable. Others, in Finland, have implemented population wide food fortification in recent years.
Helga Rhein, retired GP, firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Thomas, speech and language therapist, Inverness
Elizabeth Roddick, community pharmacist, Glasgow
Caroline McManus, staff nurse, Edinburgh
Robert Reid, retired nuclear safety engineer, Glasgow.
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