It was recently reported that the UK government will provide more than 2.5 million (25 lakh) people a free Vitamin D supply. Public Health England (PHE) also advised people, especially the elderly, those who don’t go outside and those with a darker skin, to take 10 micrograms of Vitamin D daily between October and early March. “It’s particularly important this year as individuals are more likely to have been indoors for extended periods due to measures introduced to stop COVID spread,” the department stated in a release.
While many studies observed that Vitamin D can have a positive impact in protecting against COVID, concrete evidence is yet to be found. Research is being done, and findings are expected towards year-end, the department’s statement said.
Vitamin D is not something you can take whenever you want: Doctors
“Vitamin D is not something you can take whenever you want, as hyper vitamin D can lead to complications,” says Dr Vivek Nangia, Principal Director & HOD, Institute of Respiratory Pulmonary Intensive Care (Saket Complex), Max Super Speciality Hospital. He adds, “Ensure that your Vitamin D levels are low (before you pop a pill), and pills should be prescribed by a doctor.”
Dr Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director and senior pediatrician, Apollo Hospitals Group, says, “An optimum Vitamin D level is desirable.” He points out, “One should take supplements to maintain vitamin D levels. If there’s a deficiency, extra doses will be needed.”
‘Just taking Vitamin D pills will not build immunity’
Dr Vivek Pal Singh, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, says that patients with Vitamin D deficiency should be treated with proper medication, but overuse of the vitamin should be avoided. He says, “Most of us are Vitamin D deficient, though we receive good sunshine in the country. The darker one’s skin, the lesser Vitamin D is produced naturally. But saying that those deficient in Vitamin D have poor immunity is wrong. We are more inclined to boost immunity when there’s a crisis, such as now, in COVID times. But you can’t go against nature’s law. I’ve seen people go into renal failure by over the counter Vitamin D pills, thinking that they build immunity and strength. I don’t advocate blind use of Vitamin D tablets. It should be considered for specific populations (those with kidney failure or who have trouble producing Vitamin D naturally), and in those cases, you should consider therapeutic dose of Vitamin D, but blanket distribution and use of Vitamin D would subject patients to overdose, which isn’t recommended clinically.”
Dr Singh adds that in a situation like the pandemic, we don’t have the time to test whether a vitamin like Vitamin D can affect the outcome of COVID. “If I prescribe Vitamin D to one patient and not to the other, I don’t think it’ll make a difference. COVID is a very unpredictable disease; it doesn’t show the same symptoms. I feel that changing our lifestyle is the most difficult thing to do, and popping a pill is the easiest,” he says.