By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Published: May 11, 2020 4:28 a.m.
New research has found an association between low average vitamin D levels and a high number of Covid-19 cases and death rates in 20 European countries. The research, led by scientists from the British University Anglia Ruskin (ARU) and the Lynn NHS Foundation Trust at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King, is published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research.
Vitamin D is known to modulate the response of white blood cells, preventing them from releasing too many inflammatory cytokines (part of the body’s immune response to fight infections). And the SARS-CoV2 virus is known to cause an excess of pro-inflammatory cytokines, called a cytokine storm.
The new study shows that Italy and Spain, both of which have had high Covid-19 death rates, have lower average vitamin D levels than most northern European countries. According to the researchers, this is partly due to the fact that people in southern Europe, especially the elderly, avoid the strong sun, while pigmentation of the skin also reduces the natural synthesis of vitamin D.
The highest average levels of vitamin D are found in northern Europe, due to consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements, and possibly less avoidance of the sun. Scandinavian countries are among the countries with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and per capita death rates in Europe, the ARU said in a statement on the new research.
“We found a significant crude relationship between average vitamin D levels and the number of cases of Covid-19, and in particular the mortality rates of Covid-19, per capita in the 20 European countries,” said Dr Lee Smith of ARU in the release.
“Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections, and the elderly, the group most deficient in vitamin D, are also the most severely affected by Covid-19. A previous study found that 75% of people in institutions, such as hospitals and nursing homes, were severely deficient in vitamin D. We suggest that it would be desirable to conduct dedicated studies on vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients with varying degrees of disease severity, “said Dr. Lee. –Source: Anglia Ruskin University
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