As the country continues to debate whether beaches and parks should be open during the coronavirus pandemic, a new study could potentially shine a light on how vitamin D might help the human body’s immune system in its fight against the coronavirus.
Scientists have known that vitamin D has numerous health benefits, including boosting your immune system. Studies have found that vitamin influences your body’s susceptibility to autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and the seasonal flu.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble compound not found in very many foods, but it can be absorbed through supplements. The major natural source of vitamin D is from ultraviolet rays when sunlight hits the skin and triggers vitamin D synthesis.
Researchers from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust and the University of East Anglia in England found links between low levels of vitamin D and COVID-19 mortality rates, according to Science Alert.
“We believe, that we can advise vitamin D supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV2 infection,” the paper states.
The researchers analyzed vitamin D levels for 20 European nations. The scientists found that vitamin D levels are “severely low” in aging populations, especially in Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. The scientists point out that these countries also suffered the highest coronavirus mortality rates.
The team of researchers determined that vitamin D levels were “strongly associated” with coronavirus fatality rates. “The most vulnerable group of population for COVID-19 is also the one that has the most deficit in vitamin D,” the researchers said.
The preliminary study, which was uploaded to Research Square last month, has yet to be peer-reviewed.
A 2017 study, found that “vitamin D supplementation was safe and it protected against acute respiratory tract infection overall.” The authors of the paper said the patients who were “very vitamin D deficient” experienced the most benefits.
A study from Trinity College Dublin found that vitamin D plays a critical role in preventing respiratory infections.
Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, said vitamin D reduced the risk of chest infections and could be helpful for the immune system to fight off coronavirus.
We have evidence to support a role for Vitamin D in the prevention of chest infections, particularly in older adults who have low levels. In one study Vitamin D reduced the risk of chest infections to half in people who took supplements. Though we do not know specifically of the role of Vitamin D in COVID infections, given its wider implications for improving immune responses and clear evidence for bone and muscle health, those cocooning and other at-risk cohorts should ensure they have an adequate intake of Vitamin D. Cocooning is a necessity but will reduce physical activity. Muscle deconditioning occurs rapidly in these circumstances and Vitamin D will help to maintain muscle health and strength in the current crisis.