With the coronavirus upending hundreds of thousands of lives, infecting millions, scientists are pushing harder to find links and connections that reveal pathways the virus exploits to spread and infect at the current unprecedented rate. And vitamin D deficiency is in the spotlight.
Recent findings are connecting vitamin-D deficiency with increased severity and risk of mortality form novel coronavirus. Recent rounds of studies claim novel coronavirus patients who were the sickest had a low level of D vitamin in their body.
The question is does vitamin D deficiency increase the chances of coronavirus infection, and mortality from the same? There is no one single conclusion or study to answer this question, but experts have their opinions.
What role does Vitamin D play in our bodies?
One of the highlighting roles that the D vitamin plays in the body is to modulate and boost immunity. It impacts the way the body responds to immunity, according to health experts. That said, reportedly there is strong evidence from pre-pandemic studies that conclude the heightened risk of respiratory tract infections when there is a vitamin D deficiency.
“Vitamin D is a phenomenal molecule in our bodies. Vitamin D does boost and modulate the immune system,” says Dr. Anthony Cardillo, CEO Of Mend Urgent Care and ER physician, who joined ABC 7 via Skype recently.
Dr. Cardillo told pointing the Chinese studies that there is a potential connection between the two. “They started realizing that people that were the sickest in the hospital that had the longest duration of illness had the lowest levels of vitamin D,” he told in an interview.
Researchers of Northwestern University recently published a study in the journal medRxiv The team of researchers looked into data from highly infected countries like China, Italy, the US, and Spain and found infected patients had lower levels of Vit-D compared to patients in countries where the infections were less.
This research also found that there is a strong correlation between vitamin D levels and cytokines overabundance. This is a condition where the body produces an overabundance of cytokines – an immune cell – that leads to fatal inflammation in the lungs. A leading expert confirms this finding. Vitamin D regulates the immune system which will prevent an excess section of cytokines from the body, Newsweek reports.
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Other studies have also vouched for the pivotal role of D vitamin in boosting the immune system, which apparently decides the severity of the viral infections.
It must be noted however, these studies are largely on the pre-print section, and are peer-reviewed. In a Rapid Review published by a team of doctors at The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford wrote:
“We found no clinical evidence on vitamin D in COVID-19. There was no evidence related to vitamin D deficiency predisposing to COVID-19, nor were there studies of supplementation for preventing or treating COVID-19.”
Hence, there is nothing to panic about. However, keeping a check in the vital levels of the vitamin is invaluable. More invaluable is to maintain the safety protocols of social distancing and hygiene practices by the health authorities.
Now the question is: where do I get Vitamin D?
Speaking to ABC 7 doctor Dr. Anthony Cardillo suggests sunlight, is the best source of vitamin D. “Being out and about in the sun will definitely cause your skin to synthesize vitamin D,” Dr. Cardillo says adding: “Sunshine is the best way to get vitamin D levels elevated.
The doctor suggested allowing the body to soak sunshine n the backyard or taking a stroll in the open while maintaining strict physical distancing.
Coronavirus risk or not, what are the sources of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential component of life. The human body is naturally capable of producing Vit-D from sunlight. It is popularly known to be an integral part of bone and teeth while supporting the immune, brain, and nervous system, according to Medical News Today. Vit D is also known to support cardiovascular health and lung function.
The Source of vitamin D varies from dietary habits. It is different from vegetarians and non-vegetarians, while another for vegans.
Some of the best plant-based sources of vitamin D are mushrooms, fortified cereals, and fruit juices.
The best vegan source of Vitamin D?
Irrespective of an individual’s dietary preference, the best source of Vitamin D remains sunlight. Medical News Today reports, according to the Vitamin D Council, the amount of exposure needed by a person to absorb Vit D depends on age, skin color, and geography.
The best time, according to sources, is the midday, when the sun is at the highest point in the sky. It is recommended to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated while exposing oneself in the sun. The more the skin will be exposed the more vitamin D the body will make, hence exposing the back, than just hands and head will lead to more Vit D.
Looking for some delicious cruelty-free sources of vitamin D? get mushrooms, oats, soy milk, and fortified orange juice (preferably sugar-free), they’re great sources of non-animal Vit D according to Healthline.
As soon as the sun rays hit the skin, the tissues start to make vitamin D for the body’s use. Vitamin D Council suggests fifteen minutes for a light-skinned person and a couple of hours for a person of color.
However, it must be noted too much exposure to the sun can lead to skin burns and potential skin cancer.