A study, conducted by researchers of Northwestern University which is available at the pre-print journal medRxiv, finds that deficiency of Vitamin D which has so far been associated with health of bones and immune system, plays a key role in complicating coronavirus cases.
The scientists noted that the countries which receive good amount of sunlight, such as Spain and Northern Italy, had low concentrations of vitamin D in population and experienced the highest infection and death rates in Europe.
On the other hand, northern latitude countries of Norway, Finland, and Sweden, have higher vitamin D levels despite less UVB sunlight exposure, because supplementation and fortification of foods is more common. These Nordic countries have lower COVID-19 infection and death rates.
“There is strong circumstantial evidence of associations between vitamin D and the severity of COVID-19 responses, including death. However, we need randomized controlled trials to conclusively prove that vitamin D affects COVID-19 outcomes,” says Dr Able Lawrence, Professor of Immunology at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow.
Dr Lawrence says, “Vitamin D is important in regulation and suppression of the inflammatory cytokine response. And it's the flood of cytokine response which causes the severe consequences of COVID-19 and ‘acute respiratory distress syndrome in covid19. That suggests that deficiency of vitamin D may complicate the situation in covid19 patients."
He advises that people should maintain adequate level of vitamin D by exposing themselves to sunlight for at least half an hour, or till the skin turns reddish (erythema).
“If exposure of sunlight is not possible in the lockdown or if you have had suffer with deficiency or in the past, must take 60,000 units vitamin D capsule once a week for three months," he says adding that it doesn't mean that taking Vitamin D can provide protection from coronavirus.