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Vitamin D3 can protect against fatal COVID-19 infection

  • IASbaba
  • December 20, 2021
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(Down to Earth: Health)


Dec 14 – Vitamin D3 can protect against fatal COVID-19 infection: Study – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/health/vitamin-d3-can-protect-against-fatal-covid-19-infection-study-80683 

TOPIC:

  • GS-2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Vitamin D3 can protect against fatal COVID-19 infection

Context: A recent study has shown that patients with sufficiently high D3 serum levels preceding the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were highly unlikely to suffer a fatal outcome. It also underlined the importance of vaccination alongwith strengthening the immunity system of the whole population by vitamin D3 supplementation to consistently guarantee blood levels above 50 nanograms per millilitre.

What is 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.

Effectiveness of Vitamin D Shown By Studies:

  • According to a paper written by three German scientists, there are enough evidences showing the role of Vitamin D in regulating the immune system. 
  • It follows different mechanism in reducing the risk of viral infection and mortality and also the risk of common cold through three pathways: physical barrier, cellular natural immunity, and adaptive immunity.
  • Including several other diseases, it is also effective in curing respiratory distress syndrome which is a COVID-19 after-effect, the risk of other such acute viral respiratory tract infections and pneumonia.
  • Effective in reducing the generation of inflammatory cytokines – responsible for cytokine release syndrome, also known as cytokine storm, which causes multiple organ damage – a key cause of death in late stage COVID-19 cases.   
  • According to a study conducted by Boston University’s School 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.
  • A 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.

Advantages of Vitamin D beyond Health Benefits:

  • From social and political point of view: It will reduce the need for contact restrictions and lockdown.
  • From economical point of view: Since it is inexpensive, billions of dollars will be saved. Together with vaccines, it will boost the chance of getting rid of the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

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.

The Challenge

  • Despite all these facts, testing and supplementation of vitamin D3 remains insufficient till now. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic began, the widespread of vitamin D deficiency was recorded. The reason being the shortfall to modern lifestyle that is “far from optimal with respect to nutrition, physical fitness, and recreation” as per the study.
  • This is a matter of concern as scientists wrote, after rickets – a condition from the 19th century that softens bones, “the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is becoming the second breakthrough in the history of vitamin D3 association with disease”

Conclusion

Adequate Vitamin D levels may prove key in preventing COVID-19 risk and reducing severity of infection. Thus, people who are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency during this global pandemic should consider taking supplements. But levels of supplements needed should be decided in consultation with doctors. 

Can you answer the following question?

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

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