As we continue our struggle with coronavirus, our researchers and scientists are working very hard all over the country to find out the solution or an effective alternative. One such recent study claimed that Vitamin D deficiency may be one of the reasons to get infected by coronavirus and lead to fatal death. The aim of the study was to prepare the hypothesis on how different single vitamins and minerals deficiency can be also one of the causes because of COVID-19.
Hence, in this article, we will discuss the basics of vitamin D and its connection with the immune system and coronavirus.
What is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which the body is able to get through the diet, supplements, and exposure to sunlight. The body can synthesize it with the help of sunlight from a precursor that the body makes from cholesterol.
Fortified milk and dairy products and certain types of fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel) are among the best sources of vitamin D. Small amounts are also found in beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
What are the Different Types of Vitamin D?
D3, cholecalciferol, the animal form of vitamin D, is the closest form to what our bodies naturally produce with exposure to the sun. Though the sun is an extremely important source of vitamin D, plants also contain D2, ergocalciferol.
D3 Cholecalciferol is what you will find in most of the supplements and is the most absorbed form of vitamin D. Always check the nutritional label before buying the Vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D supplements have long been touted as important to bone health!
Yes, Vitamin D is necessary for proper bone growth. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and for regulating serum calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. As a result, vitamin D promotes healthy bones and teeth. Because calcium absorption depends on vitamin D, those with vitamin D deficiency are at risk for calcium deficiency.
Emerging research suggests that adequate daily vitamin D intake may play a role in supporting breast and colon health as well as immune system regulation
Easy to understand, let’s list down 5 most important benefits of vitamin D
Helps Build Stronger Bones
Helps Boost the Immune System
Improves Heart Health
Helps in Weight Loss
Improves Brain Function
In this article, I will mainly focus on Vitamin D and Immunity
Vitamin D has already been proved to be protective against acute respiratory infections. Will it be helpful in protecting against coronavirus?
The study conducted by Petre CL et. al 2020, which was published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research Journal in April 2020 found out close relationships between vitamin D levels, COVID-19 patients, and mainly the mortality rates caused due to coronavirus. We all know the most vulnerable group of the population includes the older adults and also the one with very low levels of vitamin D.
Each patient who was suffering from COVID-19, especially the older adults, had severe vitamin D deficiency.COVID-19 is usually caused by the virus by the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Vitamin D has been shown to inhibit the release of these proinflammatory cytokines. It was also observed in other studies that Calcitriol or commonly known as Vitamin D3 exerts a pronounced impact on ACE2. The entry of SARS-CoV-2 into the human cells is via Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE 2),a host cell receptor responsible for mediating infection by SARS-CoV-2. Kuku et. al (2006), showed that higher ACE2, better is the outcome of coronavirus disease. Vitamin D may also help improve the immune system by inhibition of the Renin-Angiotensin System (RAS) which may reduce the activity of ACE2.
The above image explains in a very simple way that deficiency of vitamin D can have a detrimental effect on the immune system as it also reduces the efficiency of ACE2 which can actually mediate the entry of coronavirus.
This is being already proved in protecting the lungs fro the acute lung injury. Hence, it is advised to conduct a large scale study to understand vitamin D levels in COVID-19 and degree of severity of the disease. (Petre CL, 2020)
Vitamin D supplementation might boost the immune system of COVID-19 patients and reduce the severity of the disease in vitamin D deficient individuals.
This is not all, Vitamin D is a key nutrient for most of the immune cells and to function properly. It has multiple roles
in the immune system that can modulate the body’s reaction to an infection.
Who should Consume Vitamin D supplements?
- Both vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and thus, both the group should focus on including the Vitamin D supplement.
- Older adults should consume as they age, their skin cannot synthesize sufficient vitamin D from the natural sources and also they are hardly exposed to the sunlight.
- People with dark skin, because of the pigment melanin in the epidermal layer in the darker skin, reduces the skin’s ability to produce Vitamin D from sunlight.
- People with limited sun exposure should definitely include vitamin D supplementation. Forex, women wearing a black robe all day, or a homemaker or people working in the office the whole day.
Include Vitamin D supplements in your daily routine to keep your immune intact. This is mainly because during the lockdown you may not be getting enough from the sunlight as we all staying indoors.