Vitamin D levels low in autumn, winter in 80% of Slovenians

Ljubljana, 2 November - As many as 80% of adults in Slovenia do not get enough vitamin D in autumn and winter months, the Institute for Nutrition said on World Vitamin D Day, observed on 2 November. Vitamin D is seen as particularly important for the immune system during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunbathing on the Croatian coast.
Photo: Tina Kosec/STA

Vitamin D is essential for the normal functioning of the human body. Sufficient amounts are generated in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. In the autumn and winter months when sunlight exposure is low, food becomes an important source of vitamin D, said Igor Pravst from the institute, noting that fish and eggs for example are rich in Vitamin D.

In Slovenia, a national survey called Nutrihealth has recently been conducted to get an insight into vitamin D levels in the population, and research continues as part of a project led by the institute.

The results of previous surveys have shown that Slovenians receive 3-4 microgrammes of vitamin D a day, while a healthy adult needs at least 20 microgrammes.

The latest surveys show that this year people have even lower levels of vitamin D, possibly because of lifestyle changes following the outbreak of coronavirus.

The people who had less exposure to sunlight during the summer because of coronavirus measures will have even lower levels of vitamin D in the autumn than last year, said Katja Žmitek from the institute.

Vitamin D deficiency makes the immune system less prepared to fight infections targeting the respiratory system, so according to endocrinologist Marija Pfeifer having enough vitamin D in the body during the epidemic can help fight infections in the lungs, and other Covid-19 symptoms, and possibly even prevent death.

At the end of last year, a task force of experts was set up to prepare guidelines for Vitamin D intake. The group led by Pfeifer advises people to take 20-50 microgrammes of vitamin D a day, and proposes double the dosage for the obese.

If case of a coronavirus infection, the dosage should be increased and then kept at 50 microgrammes a day, Pfeifer said.

Comprehensive national guidelines regrading vitamin D are to be presented next year.

© STA, 2020