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Role of Vitamin D – The Big Picture – India Fights Back – RSTV IAS UPSC

  • IASbaba
  • December 10, 2020
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The Big Picture- RSTV, UPSC Articles
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Role of Vitamin D

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TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

In News: The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a global public health crisis. Little is known about the protective factors of this infection. Therefore, preventive health measures that can reduce the risk of infection, progression and severity are desperately needed.

Various studies have shown that Vitamin D can work wonders for COVID-19 patients- both in managing the symptoms as well as in preventing the infection.

The studies conducted states

According to a study conducted by Boston University’sSchool of Medicine COVID-19 patients with adequate levels of vitamin D have a lesser chance of showing “adverse clinical effects of the coronavirus” — like becoming unconscious and suffering from hypoxia. 

In the search for better weapons in the COVID-19 battle, researchers in Spain feel that Vitamin D may help boost our chances. 

The Spanish researchers proposed that the activation of the Vitamin D receptors may have beneficial effects in Acute Respiratory Disorder Syndrome (ARDS) by decreasing the pro-inflammatory response in the body during an infection.

The study in 216 Covid-19 patients has found over 80% have vitamin D deficiency. Men had lower vitamin D levels than women. Those with low vitamin D levels also had raised serum levels of inflammatory markers.

Several studies demonstrated the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of acute viral respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. These include direct inhibition with viral replication or with anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory ways. In the meta-analysis, vitamin D supplementation has been shown as safe and effective against acute respiratory tract infections. Thus, people who are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency during this global pandemic should consider taking vitamin D supplements

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone, produced endogenously with the effect of ultraviolet radiation on the skin or available from exogenous food sources or dietary supplements. 

To make vitamin D, our bodies convert a metabolite of cholesterol in our skin cells into an inactive form of vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight, specifically to ultraviolet B (UVB) light. This inactive form then undergoes further chemical modification in the liver and kidneys.

The pigment melanin that gives our skin its color stops UVB light from reaching the cells. Hence, the darker a person’s skin, the more UVB light they need to make adequate levels of vitamin D from sunshine alone.

Vitamin D follows different mechanisms in reducing the risk of viral infection and mortality. To reduce the risk of common cold, vitamin D uses three pathways: physical barrier, cellular natural immunity, and adaptive immunity.

Vitamin D insufficiency is a public health problem affecting over a billion people across all life stages worldwide.

Vitamin D-Rich Diet Sources

Fatty Fish – Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel and fish liver oils provide a goods amount of vitamin D content.

Dairy Products – Milk, cheese and other dairy products must be included in everyday diet for daily vitamin D fix.

Eggs Yolks – Many people discard yolks from eggs fearing high fat content. Egg yolks also contain decent quantities of vitamin D and can be sparingly used in our meals.

Cereals And Juices – A perfect breakfast combo to get your fill of vitamin D! Include cereals and different fruit juices in your morning diet.

Conclusion

Adequate Vitamin D levels may prove key in preventing Covid risk & reducing severity of infection. But levels of supplements needed should be decided in consultation with doctors.

Connecting the Dots:

  1. Vitamin D insufficiency is a public health problem that needs to be solved. Discuss.

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