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Diet and Lifestyle

Can Taking a Vitamin D Supplement Help Protect Against COVID-19?

Vitamin D plays a role in immunity, which is one of the reasons scientists are exploring it as a potential COVID-19 aid.iStock

You probably read a news article last week about how getting enough vitamin D could protect you from COVID-19. Maybe your friend posted it on Facebook, or you came across it in your daily reading about the pandemic. What’s the deal?

It’s true: New, preliminary research suggests taking a vitamin D supplement may play a role in preventing or managing COVID-19. But not so fast. When it comes to supplementing to protect against respiratory illness, the research isn’t there yet. Yet that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement or taking a socially distanced walk to soak up the sun, which is a natural source of the essential nutrient.

Why Are Scientists Talking About Vitamin D to Help Fight COVID-19?

It’s no surprise why scientists are interested in studying vitamin D as a treatment tool for COVID-19, or its deficiency as a potential risk factor for serious illness from the respiratory disease that is caused by the novel coronavirus.

After all, vitamin D deficiency is common among many groups at high risk for COVID-19, including the elderly and people with obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, says Rose Anne Kenny, chair of medical gerontology at Trinity College in Dublin. Aging and obesity both reduce the ability of the skin to make vitamin D from exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, Kenny says, and these diseases are associated with aging and carrying extra weight.

Vitamin D is known for aiding several essential body functions that, when compromised, may affect COVID-19 outcomes. “Vitamin D is best known for its effects on bone, but it also has important effects on the immune system,” says Adrian Martineau, PhD, a clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D is also important for fighting inflammation and contributing to cell growth.

Vitamin D supports the ability of the innate immune system to mount a range of antiviral responses, including production of substances called antimicrobial peptides that are produced by white blood cells and the lining of the lung, Dr. Martineau says. These peptides have antiviral properties as well as antibacterial ones. Vitamin D also acts to dampen down potentially harmful inflammatory responses in the body that can be more active in people with health conditions such as obesity and diabetes, which are also risk factors for COVID-19, Martineau adds.

Scientific Research on Using Vitamin D for Respiratory Illnesses, Including COVID-19

Some preliminary research explores the potential uses of vitamin D in preventing or treating COVID-19. Here’s a look at them:

Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Greater Death Risk From COVID-19

One study, published in May 2020 in the Irish Medical Journal, counterintuitively found that people who live in typically sunny countries in southern Europe, such as Spain and Italy, had higher rates of vitamin D deficiency — and higher COVID-19 infection and death rates — than people in countries including Norway, Finland, and Sweden, which are further north and comparatively less sunny.

Kenny says it’s possible people to the north have higher levels of vitamin D because their diets are high in food that has been fortified with vitamin D.

Yet this study is circumstantial; it wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how vitamin D levels may directly impact the risk of developing or dying from COVID-19. Researchers also got their data on vitamin D levels and supplementation policies in different countries via previously published papers that used a wide variety of methods to determine what proportion of people had vitamin D deficiency. Also, researchers didn’t examine other micronutrients, including zinc, selenium, and vitamin B6, which may also influence immune function and COVID-19 risk, the study team wrote. 

Vitamin D May Protect Against Respiratory Infections in General

Another study, published in February 2017 in The BMJ, examined data from 25 clinical trials testing the impact of vitamin D supplements on acute respiratory infections, including bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinusitis (a common sinus infection). Combined, these trials involved a total of 11,321 participants who were randomly assigned to take vitamin D supplements or placebo pills and followed for up to 1.5 years. Randomized, controlled trials are the gold standard of medical research because they can show whether an intervention directly causes specific outcomes, a past paper explains.

Results from these trials suggested that people who took vitamin D supplements were 12 percent less likely to develop acute respiratory infections than people who didn’t. And among people with the most severe vitamin D deficiency, taking supplements reduced their respiratory infection risk by 70 percent.

Yet one limitation of this study is that researchers didn’t have data on whether people received flu shots or if they were diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), two factors that can independently affect the risk for acute respiratory infections.

This study was also done several years before COVID-19 began circling the globe. So although it provides strong evidence that vitamin D supplementation may help with other respiratory infections, it doesn’t prove beyond a doubt that vitamin D will help fight COVID-19.

Still, the results do suggest that this is possible given the known functions of vitamin D, says Martineau, who was one of the authors of the BMJ study.

Vitamin D Could Play a Role in Preventing the Flu, Which Is Another Respiratory Illness

Previous studies have had mixed results on the role of vitamin D in preventing the flu, which, though markedly different from COVID-19, as the World Health Organization (WHO) notes, is another severe respiratory illness.

A meta-analysis of four studies examining the link between vitamin D supplements and the effectiveness of the flu vaccine and published in March 2018 in Nutrients didn’t find any connection between the two. One limitation of this analysis is that it’s possible results could vary depending on the quality of the flu vaccine and the strains of influenza in circulation.

Previous research may suggest promise, though. One study examined influenza cases among Japanese school children who were randomly assigned to take vitamin D supplements or a placebo. The children who received vitamin D were 42 percent less likely to get the flu.

What Do I Take Away From the Research on Vitamin D and Respiratory Illnesses Like COVID-19?

Larger, more rigorous studies are needed before healthcare professionals recommend vitamin D supplementation for the general public, for COVID-19 prevention or treatment, or otherwise.

Why You May Still Want to Consider Taking a Vitamin D Supplement

That said, regardless of your risk for COVID-19, some groups may benefit from supplementation.

People of color, breastfed infants, and people who take certain medications are among the other groups of people at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency, according to Medline Plus.

Not getting enough direct sunlight is also a risk factor. “Supplementation with vitamin D is particularly important during times of self-isolation associated with limited sunlight exposure,” says Dr. Lanham-New.

Wearing sunscreen or clothing that covers most of the skin (whether to prevent skin cancer or premature signs of aging) limits the amount of vitamin D the body can produce from sun exposure, says Matthew Drake, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. And so does sheltering in place to help avoid the spread of COVID-19.

“For the majority of people, particularly those unable to spend at least 15 to 30 minutes with direct sun exposure each day, the easiest way to obtain vitamin D is through supplementation with either a multivitamin or with vitamin D directly, both of which can be obtained over the counter and do not require a prescription,” Dr. Drake says.

While eating foods high in vitamin D (think: cod liver oil, salmon, trout, and fortified milk) can also help you reach the optimal amount, it isn’t enough, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Exposure to direct sunlight and possibly a supplement can get you there, though.

How Much Vitamin D Should You Take and Is There an Upper Limit?

For the record, vitamin D recommendations vary widely around the world. Most people should get 600 IU of vitamin D daily, according to the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. For people older than 70 it’s 800 IU, and for infants it’s 400 IU.


Because high daily doses of vitamin D can be harmful, don’t exceed standard recommended doses without first checking with your doctor, says Lanham-New. In fact, because everyone’s nutrient needs differ, asking your healthcare team about the right dose for you is smart. You can do that via telemedicine if an in-person visit is less preferable or unavailable.

Taking Vitamin D During the COVID-19 Pandemic: What’s the Bottom Line?

At this point, it is not clear that vitamin D supplementation will help prevent or treat COVID-19 infection, Drake says. 

But because vitamin D is safe when taken at reasonable dosages, there is not likely to be any harm for older adults to take recommended amounts of vitamin D, especially if you’re in a high-risk group.

“It is now increasingly recognized that vitamin D likely plays a role in immune cell function, such that low vitamin D levels may lead to a reduced ability for each of our immune systems to fight various insults including infections,” says Drake. “Maintaining vitamin D levels within a normal range, therefore, might be one way to improve the immune system’s ability to fight an infection — perhaps such as COVID-19.”

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Diet and Lifestyle

MGO Manuka Honey 100+

Why Manuka Honey?

Manuka honey is used as a natural ointment for wounds of all kinds. It has been hailed as a go-to germ fighter in an age of resistance to conventional antibiotics. Proponents also claim that Manuka honey can treat other conditions from acne to sinus issues.

Manuka honey hasn’t been used very long as a traditional remedy. It’s the product of the New Zealand scrub plant that gives it its name. European honey bees introduced it to the area in the early 19th century. When bees pollinate from this plant, their honey is more potent than standard honey bee honey. This is because it has a higher concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO).

What are the benefits of Manuka honey?

When it comes to superfoods, raw honey is associated with health benefits. Manuka isn’t raw honey, but it is specialized. It’s antibacterial and bacterial resistant. This means that bacteria shouldn’t be able to build up a tolerance to its antibacterial effects.

Manuka honey is said to be effective for treating everything from a sore throat to clearing up blemishes on your skin.

Other purported benefits of honey include:

  • helping heal cuts and scrapes
  • clearing infections
  • easing stomach aches
  • improving digestion
  • boosting the immune system
  • providing energy

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Harvested over 4 short weeks each year, MGO™ Manuka Honey is sustainably sourced from beehives in remote and pristine areas of New Zealand with full traceability from beekeeper to jar.

This delicious, smooth and creamy honey contains a minimum of 100mg of MGO™ per kg and is available in 250g, 500g or 1kg jars.

The unique benefits of Manuka Honey are well documented and are scientifically tested. However, it is important to know that the level of methylglyoxal can vary greatly in Manuka Honey, so you want to be sure you know what you’re getting. That is why at Manuka Health we test and certify our MGO™ Manuka Honey to guarantee the level of methylglyoxal present, as indicated on the label.

Recommended Use:

Enjoy MGO™ Manuka Honey off the spoon, with food such as toast or drizzled over porridge, or add to a hot drink when you are feeling a little under the weather

Please note Manuka Honey is not suitable for children under 12 months.

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Diet and Lifestyle

SUPPORTING EXAM STRESS and Kids going back to School.

stress

Tests and exams can be a challenging part of school life for children and young people and their parents or carers. But there are ways to ease the stress.

Watch for signs of stress

Children and young people who are stressed may:

  • worry a lot
  • feel tense
  • have headaches and stomach pains
  • not sleep well
  • be irritable
  • lose interest in food or eat more than normal
  • not enjoy activities they previously enjoyed
  • be negative and have a low mood
  • feel hopeless about the future

Having someone to talk to about their work can help. Support from a parent, tutor or study buddy can help young people share their worries and keep things in perspective.

Encourage your child to talk to a member of school staff who they feel is supportive. If you think your child is not coping, it may also be helpful for you to talk to their teachers.

Try to involve your child as much as possible.

Make sure your child eats well 

A balanced diet is vital for your child’s health, and can help them feel well during exam periods.

Some parents find high-fat, high-sugar and high-caffeine foods and drinks, such as energy drinks, cola, sweets, chocolate, burgers and chips, make their children hyperactive, irritable and moody.

Where possible, involve your child in shopping for food and encourage them to choose some healthy snacks.

Read more about healthy eating for teens.

Help your child get enough sleep 

Good sleep improves thinking and concentration. Most teenagers need 8 to 10 hours’ sleep a night. Learn more about how much sleep children need.

Allow half an hour or so for your child to wind down between studying, watching TV or using a computer and going to bed, to help them get a good night’s sleep.

Cramming all night before an exam is usually a bad idea. Sleep will benefit your child far more than a few hours of panicky last-minute study.

Be flexible during exams

Be flexible around exam time. When your child is revising all day, do not worry about household jobs left undone or untidy bedrooms.

Staying calm yourself can help. Remember, exams do not last forever.

The Family Lives website has more about coping with exam stress.

Help them study

Make sure your child has somewhere comfortable to study. Ask them how you can support them with their revision.

Help them come up with practical ideas that will help them revise, such as drawing up a revision schedule or getting hold of past papers for practice.

To motivate your child, encourage them to think about their goals in life and see how their revision and exams are related to them.

Talk about exam nerves

Remind your child that it’s normal to feel anxious. Nervousness is a natural reaction to exams. The key is to put these nerves to positive use.

If anxiety is getting in the way rather than helping, encourage your child to practise the activities they’ll be doing on the day of the exam. This will help it feel less scary.

For example, this may involve doing practice papers under exam conditions or seeing the exam hall beforehand. School staff should be able to help with this.

Help your child face their fears and see these activities through, rather than avoiding them.  

Encourage them to think about what they know and the time they’ve already put into studying to help them feel more confident.

Encourage exercise during exams

Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind and relieve stress. It does not matter what it is – walking, cycling, swimming, football and dancing are all effective.

Activities that involve other people can be particularly helpful.

Support group Childline says many children who contact them feel that most pressure at exam time comes from their family.

Listen to your child, give them support and avoid criticism.

Before they go in for a test or exam, be reassuring and positive. Let them know that failing is not the end of the world. If things do not go well they may be able to take the exam again.

After each exam, encourage your child to talk it through with you. Discuss the parts that went well rather than focusing on the questions they found difficult. Then move on and focus on the next test, rather than dwelling on things that cannot be changed.

Make time for treats

With your child, think about rewards for doing revision and getting through each exam.

Rewards do not need to be big or expensive. They can include simple things like making their favourite meal or watching TV.

When the exams are over, help your child celebrate by organising an end-of-exams treat.

When to get help

Some young people feel much better when exams are over, but that’s not the case for all young people.

Get help if your child’s anxiety or low mood is severe, persists and interferes with their everyday life. Seeing a GP is a good place to start.

Some basic rules coming up to exam time

A quiet place to study – A suitable environment to study is important to help concentration levels.

A balanced diet – Good nutrition is essential at any time of year, but especially during exam time. Batch cook some healthy meals and stock up on nutritious snacks. Having some of the student’s favourite dinner to hand is important too.

Omega 3 is essential to fuel the hard-working brain at this time. Keep brain and vision in tip top shape by making sure to top up your good fats daily. Consider taking Cleanmarine® Krill Oil High Strength. It contains 590mg of concentrated, high strength Omega 3 Krill Oil. This concentrated formula of EPA, DHA, Astaxanthin and Choline provides the essential fatty acids required for the normal function of the heart, brain and vision. DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function and vision, the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 250mg. Also eating 2 – 3 portions of oily fish a week will provides more essential fats for your body. Examples include salmon, mackerel and herring. Easy to cook in steam parcels in the oven with garlic, lemon and oil.

A good night’s sleep – Studying all night may seem like a good idea but if your child doesn’t get enough sleep, they are more likely to forget the information or under perform. When your mind is buzzing with exam questions, quotes and scientific theories, having something to help you switch off, relax and support deep sleep is a must. Try melissa-dreams which contains all-natural ingredients including the herbs lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and Chamomile in combination with selected B-vitamins, Magnesium and the amino acid L-theanine. Magnesium contributes to a reduction of tiredness and fatigue while vitamins B6 and B12 contribute to the normal function of the nervous system. With no drowsiness or side effects the next day, Melissa Dream helps you to wake up rested and full of energy.

Exercise – Even a 20-minute walk will help your child to relax and destress their mind, this will also help oxygenate the entire body.

Stress is the biggest obstacle to overcome. It’s so important to get enough B vitamins in foods like broccoli. Kale, spinach. Getting your 5-a-day is bound to be the least of your worries as exam time approaches; ironically this is when your nutritional and energy needs are at their highest. Make sure you keep your nutrient and energy levels up with One Nutrition® Organic Power Greens. This is a unique combination of nature’s finest green foods including kale, broccoli, spirulina, wheat grass and barley grass juice powders in a handy capsule or powder to add to your morning smoothie.

Take time out to do something you love such as walking your dog, reading a magazine, chat online to your best friend. Journaling is also therapeutic, to put your thoughts and feelings onto paper. Try family time such as playing a board game to distract your mind from the books for a while.

Don’t forget to celebrate – when the exams are over, go out and celebrate together, hopefully everything will be back to normal by then.

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Diet and Lifestyle

Go Cal Plus Saffron Slim

If a person has gained some weight during the quarantine period, it is important for them not to be too self-critical. Several manageable adjustments can help people lose the weight they gained in lockdown.

Quarantine is an effective measure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

However, life under lockdown comes with its own mental and physical challenges.

As a result of quarantine, some people may notice weight gain during the pandemic — one study suggests 22% of adults reported gaining weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many challenges and disruptions to daily routines may play a role in this.

Factors, such as less sleep, less physical exercise, and eating more, may contribute to what many refer to as the “quarantine 15,” referencing the weight gain that many people experience during the pandemic.

However, for those with concerns regarding weight gain, it may be possible to adapt gradual changes into daily routines that may help manage and maintain a moderate weight.

This article explores possible causes of weight gain during the pandemic and suggests some tips and strategies that may help people maintain a moderate weight.

How has the pandemic led to weight gain?

a person trying to lose weight after quarantine weight gain performs sit ups with a water bottle
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The restrictions that quarantine places on everyday life are likely to alter and interrupt many people’s daily routines.

The rise in unstructured time, the closure of gyms and recreational centers, movement restrictions, and the enormous stress of the pandemic will all likely affect people’s sleeping patterns, eating habits, and levels of physical exercise, which may contribute to weight gain.

People may also struggle to focus on weight management due to increasing work demands, unforeseen hardships. with the help of Go -call saffron slim and plenty of excersise you can get back to a weight you can manage and feel good in yourself again.

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The natural ingredients in Go Cal include Saffron, which is arguably the most expensive herb in the world due to amount of time and energy it takes to harvest. As well as 1200mg of Apple Cider Vinegar, Green Tea, which is known for its antioxidant properties, Dandelion Root, Nettle Leaf, L-Tyrosine, and L-Carnitine. It also contains Chromium, which helps to support the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels. This combination of bioactive ingredients is formulated to assist in maintaining optimum calorie control when taken as part of a calorie controlled diet:

The new and improved Go Cal contains a selection of powerful ingredients to help you with your calorie control. The formulation includes Green Tea, Saffron, Apple Cider vinegar, Nettle Leaf, L-Tyrosine, Dandelion Root, L-Carnitine and Chromium Picolinate. Chromium can help with blood sugar balance and ease sugar cravings. Saffron helps you to feel fuller for longer. Green Tea and Apple Cider Vinegar may help to speed up the metabolism. Green Tea may also provide one with the energy to continue their exercise programme. The Nettle Leaf extract may help to curb your appetite. Dandelion can help to ensure healthy digestion. L-Carnitine and L-Tyrosine are also believed to help with weight mangaement. This is a gluten free and dairy free supplement. Suitable for vegetarians.

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