People who consume enough vitamin D have a 52% lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than people who are deficient in the “sunshine vitamin,” according to new research.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the immune system and can fight inflammation. These characteristics can make it a key player in the body’s fight against the coronavirus.
Vitamin D deficiency rates are also higher in some of the same groups who have been hit hardest by the coronavirus: people of color and the elderly. This is by no means a causal link, but it does suggest that vitamin D may play a role in who gets COVI-19, who is sickest from it, and who is completely spared.
Dr Michael Holick of Boston University has found in his previous research that people who have enough vitamin D are 54% less likely to catch coronavirus in the first place.
As a result of this work, he and his team found that people who don’t get enough vitamin intake are much more likely to become seriously ill, develop sepsis, or even die after contracting coronavirus.
Because vitamin D deficiency is common in people with other illnesses that increase the risk of coronavirus, it’s impossible to say exactly how many lives would be saved if we all received our daily dose of the sunshine vitamin.
But we do know that about 42% of the American population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. If that rate were true for the more than 203,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus, perhaps 85,000 would have resisted better with improved levels of vitamin D.
Whether or not vitamin D supplements should be taken to reduce the risk of coronavirus is controversial, but getting enough of the “sunshine vitamin” plays a role in the immune system’s ability to fight infections and prevent the inflammation from getting out of control. New research suggests COVID-19 patients who consume enough vitamin D are 52% less likely to die from the infection (file)
“This study provides direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency can reduce complications, including the cytokine storm (too rapid release of too much protein into the blood) and ultimately death from COVID-19,” said Dr. Holick.
Dr Holick and his colleagues took blood samples from 235 patients admitted to hospitals in Tehran for COVID-19.
Overall, 67% of patients had vitamin D levels below 30 ng / mL.
There is no clear marker for the ideal level of vitamin D, but 30 ng / mL is considered sufficient. Anything below this is “insufficient”, but will not necessarily have large-scale health consequences, while levels below 20 ng / mL are considered “insufficient”.
In the United States, an estimated 42 percent of people are vitamin D deficient, but the rate varies widely depending on demographics.
About 60 percent of older people living in nursing homes, for example, are said to be deficient in vitamin D.
The most likely explanation is that they are simply spending too much time indoors.
Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D.
When we are exposed to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun’s rays, they react with the cholesterol in our skin, triggering the production of vitamin D.
In an increasingly internal world, rates of vitamin D deficiency have increased.
PEOPLE WITH LOW VITAMIN D ARE WORSE AGAINST COVID-19 BY ALMOST ANY MEASURES
Among the patients in the BU study, those who had sufficient blood levels of vitamin D were less likely to have dangerously low blood oxygen levels and were more likely to be conscious when they arrived at the hospital.
Patients with low levels of vitamin D were 46% more likely to need to be intubated or to develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – the condition of lung failure that proves fatal for many patients COVID-19.
Vitamin D-deficient patients also had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a likely early marker of severe COVID-19, and low white blood cell counts – a bad sign for their immune system.
Although no one in the study under the age of 40 died, deaths (in red) were more common in people with vitamin D deficiency (below the black line) of all ages.
Overall, 74% of patients, aged 30 to 90, developed severe COVID-19.
But the rate among people with enough vitamin D was lower: about 64% had serious illness.
All of the patients under 40 included in the study survived COVID-19.
But 16.3% of those who were 40 or older – 38 people – eventually died from the coronavirus.
This included only 9.7% of people with sufficient vitamin D levels, while 20% of those with low vitamin levels died.
HOW TO MAKE SURE YOU GET ENOUGH VITAMIN D?
Sunlight is our most important source of vitamin D.
The reaction of UV light with cholesterol triggers the production of the vitamin.
But people with darker skin have more melanin, which makes it harder for the skin to absorb UV rays and produce vitamin D.
We can also absorb vitamin D into our systems – albeit at lower doses – from our diet, by eating foods including:
- POISSON: such as salmon, trout, halibut, mackerel, sturgeon, swordfish and cod, herring, sardines and tilapia
- MUSHROOMS: including portobello and chanterelles
- MILK: including reduced fat milk, reduced fat chocolate milk, soy milk, almond milk and rice milk
- YOGURT: most types and flavors
- HARD BOILED EGGS
- FORTIFIED ORANGE JUICE
- SOME FORTIFIED CEREALS
Additionally, people with particularly high vitamin D levels – 40 ng / mL – were at the greatest risk of death, with just 6.3% of this group dying.
HOW VITAMIN D HELPS THE BODY FIGHT INFECTIONS
Vitamin D is a common ingredient in many immune system processes.
To name a few: it helps immune cells bind to their target pathogens, it regulates killer T cells, which attack everything from bacteria to cancer and, perhaps more importantly. , it helps maintain the balance between “good” inflammation, as immune cells flood an infection site, and “bad” inflammation, which goes haywire and begins to attack healthy cells.
In particular, it moderates cytokines, the immune proteins that turn into a fatal “storm” in many coronavirus patients.
“Indeed, the anti-inflammatory role of 1,25 (OH) 2D” – the chemical name of the vitamin – “could explain the protective role of vitamin D against the immune hyper reaction and the cytokine storm in a sub -group of patients with severe COVID- 19, ”wrote the study authors.
CORONAVIRUS HARD HIT GROUPS ALSO HAVE HIGH RATES OF VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
Vitamin D deficiency is common in groups with chronic illnesses, including heart disease and obesity, which are also more vulnerable to COVID-19. However, it is complicated to analyze whether vitamin deficiency is a factor that leads to these conditions or vice versa, and scientists are still looking for answers.
Nutrient deficiency is also common in people of color. In fact, at around 76%, vitamin D deficiency is almost twice as common among black Americans as it is among whites in the United States.
Higher levels of melanin in the skin of black and brown people make it more difficult for the vitamin to be absorbed by their body.
These groups have been disproportionately hit by the coronavirus, both in terms of cases and deaths.
Because the sun is a key part of vitamin D production, researchers at the BU saw an additional parallel with the coronavirus: timing.
“It should be noted that the COVID-19 epidemic began during the winter. In 1981, a “seasonal stimulus: hypothesis had been suggested to explain the influenza A epidemics around the winter solstice. Vitamin D biology, physiology and epidemiology indicate that vitamin D is a likely candidate for the “seasonal stimulus” since blood levels of 25 (OH) D are lowest at the end of winter The study authors wrote, referring to the last major pandemic the world experienced, the Spanish flu.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend getting at least 600 IU of vitamin D per day, whether through the sun or through supplements. It is generally considered safe to take up to 2000 IU per day, but anyone with or at risk for kidney disease should not take it because overloading can damage the kidneys, cause stones, and other problems.
Taking too much can also increase calcium levels, cause a host of digestive issues, and lead to bone loss in some cases – and scientists still aren’t sure what exactly the optimal level of vitamin D is, or how much is too much. .