Does Vitamin D help to fight COVID-19?
Does Vitamin D help to fight Covid-19?
With the spread of the Coronavirus worldwide, researchers around the world are working hard to better understand this virus. Every day we are faced with frantic news of all kinds and it is very important to find contrasted useful information to avoid panic, and to properly follow the instructions given by health professionals and governments.
Recent scientific researches have highlighted the association between low vitamin D levels and higher mortality rates from COVID-19.
As dermatologists, we have always praised the benefits of vitamin D not only for the skin, but also for the rest of the body. Vitamin D It may reduce COVID-19 complications and mortality in those who are infected. However, having healthy levels of Vitamin D or sun exposure will not prevent a person from contracting the virus.
The correlation between vitamin D levels and mortality from COVID-19
Vitamin D levels are severely low in the ageing population, especially in typically sunny countries like Spain and Italy. These countries also experienced the highest COVID-19 infections and death rates in Europe. On the other hand, Nordic countries have higher vitamin D levels despite less sun exposure because supplementation and fortification of foods is more common. These countries also have lower COVID-19 infection and death rates, researchers say.
These studies suggest that vitamin D supports the immune system and is also likely to reduce serious COVID-19 complications. This may be because vitamin D is important in regulation and suppression of the inflammatory cytokine response, which causes the severe consequences of COVID-19 and ‘acute respiratory distress syndrome’ associated with ventilation and death.
Scientists are calling on governments around the world to update public health guidelines as a matter of urgency and encourage all adults to take vitamin D supplements during the crisis.
What are the benefits of Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is produced in the skin in response to UVB sunlight exposure. It has many benefits for our bodies, such as reducing the risks of getting multiple sclerosis, heart diseases, fighting depression, and preventing skin ageing. But the most well understood benefit to vitamin D is in its ability to increase and regulate the amount of calcium in our body that keeps our bones, muscles and teeth healthy.
How do we get Vitamin D?
Various studies have shown over time that we don’t get enough of this precious Vitamin in our life. With most of us being asked to stay indoors during Covid 19 pandemic, this is more likely than ever. But we don’t have to worry! There’s plenty of ways to obtain Vitamin D.
The first and more obvious is through sunlight. According to the World Health Organization (WHO): ‘5 to 15 minutes of casual sun exposure of hands, face and arms two to three times a week during the sunny months is sufficient to keep your vitamin D levels high. Closer to the equator, where UV levels are higher, even shorter periods of exposure suffice’
Another way to get Vitamin D is through the food we eat: salmon, egg yolks, avocado or mushrooms are examples of Vitamin D-rich food.
Lastly, you can find Vitamin D supplements in the pharmacy or in some supermarkets. Consult with a doctor which is the best option for you according to your health condition and always take the recommended dosis.
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Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence.