If you're spending most of your time indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's important to take care of yourself. Ensuring you're still getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs, especially if you're lacking energy and not eating as healthy as you usually do, is essential. One vitamin you should be keeping in mind right now is vitamin D, especially with the lack of sunlight you're getting from inside the house. We talked to Mary Stevenson, MD, assistant professor at NYU Langone Health, about what vitamin D does for you and whether or not you should consider taking a supplement.
Why Do You Need Vitamin D?
"Vitamin D is important because it helps regulate calcium levels and phosphate, and is important in bone mineralization — as well as other roles it serves in the body," Dr. Stevenson told POPSUGAR. It's the primary vitamin that helps keep your bones and teeth healthy, as well as your muscles. Proper levels of vitamin D can also significantly affect your energy levels, which is why tiredness is common when you have a deficiency.
If You're Staying Inside, Should You Take a Vitamin D Supplement?
Even on lockdown, you're likely still taking in enough sunlight through your windows, Dr. Stevenson explained. However, if you're concerned that there's just not enough light in your space — because your apartment sits in the shadow of a neighbouring building, for example — it's worth having a conversation with your doctor. Older adults should also strongly consider a supplement because they need more vitamin D per day, according to Dr. Stevenson. Also, those with darker-coloured skin should keep an eye on their vitamin D levels, because the increased melanin in their skin makes it harder to absorb sunlight. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency — most commonly tiredness — and check with your doctor if you're concerned.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?
Adults under the age of 70 need 600 IU of vitamin D daily. Dr. Stevenson recommends 800 IU of vitamin D for those over 70. "Common food sources of vitamin D are fatty fish or fish oils, egg yolks, and vitamin D fortified milk," she said. With a combination of those foods and even just a little sunlight, you should get your recommended dosage of vitamin D. If you need a supplement, though, ask your doctor for a recommendation.