Covid-19: Can Vitamin D and Foods Rich in Vitamin D Reduce Your Risk of Dying From Covid-19 and Other Respiratory Infections?

Besides being important in bone health and calcium homeostasis, Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the prevention and/or treatment of many diseases. It inhibits pulmonary inflammatory responses and enhances innate immunity mechanisms against respiratory pathogens.

Low serum Vitamin D levels are known to be associated with high risk of respiratory tract infections like tuberculosis, influenza, the ‘common cold’, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and asthma.

Sunshine is the main source of Vitamin D. 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3] is the biologically active form of Vitamin D. In the skin, 7-dehydrocholesterol reacts with UVB radiation, present in sunlight with a UV index of three or more to form Vitamin D3 also known as cholecalciferol.

Many countries in the world do not have enough sunlight to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D. It is recommended that if you do not get enough sunlight, you eat foods that are rich in Vitamin D. They include salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil, canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms, fortified foods, swordfish, trout, rockfish, almond milk, and rice drink. Some people take Vitamin D supplements like these from Amazon.

Recent research studies are showing an association of low Vitamin D levels and susceptibility to Covid-19 complications and death. Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease caused by the newly discovered coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first discovered in China in December 2019.

Can Vitamin D, and Vitamin D containing foods reduce your risk of dying from Covid-19 and other respiratory tract infections?

Scientific Evidence:

William B. Grant and colleagues, 2020, reviewed scientific literature about the roles of vitamin D in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections, knowledge about the epidemiology of influenza and Covid-19, and how vitamin D supplementation might be a useful measure to reduce risk.

They found out that vitamin D supplements reduced the risk of influenza and other respiratory tract infections. They also reported that in winter 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations in the human body are lowest due to lack of sunshine. This is the time when the Covid-19 outbreak started and is also the time when other respiratory tract disease cases increase and/or become worse.

In conclusion, they recommended that to reduce the risk of infection and death, people at risk of influenza and/or Covid-19 should consider taking vitamin D3 supplements and eating foods rich in vitamin D to rapidly raise their vitamin D concentrations

However, there is need for randomized controlled trials and large population studies to evaluate the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation in reducing the risk of influenza and Covid-19 infections and death.

D.M. McCartney and D.G. Byrne, 2020, reviewed scientific studies on the optimization of vitamin D status for enhanced immuno-protection against Covid-19. In conclusion, they recommended that people at high risk of Covid-19 infection and death, for example, older adults; hospital inpatients; nursing home residence; people with diabetes mellitus; overweight and obese people; smokers and healthcare workers; and vegetarians, should supplement with 20 to 50 ug of vitamin D per day to enhance their resistance to Covid-19.

Conclusion:

Although vitamin D appears to be good at reducing the risk of dying from Covid-19 and other respiratory tract infections, there is need for further studies that include large populations. These studies should also be carried out in many different geographical areas including Africa where there is sunshine almost throughout the year.

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