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Vitamin D deficiency: How lacking in the essential vitamin increases risk from Covid-19

Protecting the immune system is vital during these concerning times. The immune system consists of a complex collection of cells, processes and chemicals that constantly defends the body against invading pathogens, including viruses, toxins and bacteria. Keeping the immune system healthy is key to preventing infections and disease. Making healthy lifestyle choices are the most important and taking supplementation when needed. When it comes to supplements, vitamin D is an absolute must in order to keep the body operating healthy, but also to help prevent respiratory infections in the case of a coronavirus infection.


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Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient which is essential to the health and functioning of the immune system.

Vitamin D enhances the pathogen fighting effects of monocytes and macrophages, which are white blood cells that are important parts of the immune’s defence and they also help to decrease inflammation, which helps promote immune response.

Many people are deficient in this vital vitamin which may affect the immune system negatively.

Studies have also proven that vitamin D could also help protect the respiratory system – a vital attribute during the Covid-19 pandemic which is known to attack that particular system.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on their website: “Respiratory tract infections are conditions that affect the air passage.

These include acute infections that affect the lower respiratory tract and lungs, such as pneumonia and influenza, which are among the leading causes of death in children worldwide.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, different from others in that a major source derives from UV light-induced conversion of its precursor under the skin.

Studies have indicated that there is a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency worldwide.


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“Vitamin D deficiency may affect the immune system as vitamin D plays an immunomodulation role, enhancing innate immunity by up-regulating the expression and secretion of antimicrobial peptides which boosts mucosal defences.

“Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis has reported a protective effect of vitamin D supplementation on respiratory tract infections.

“Therefore, in this commentary we reviewed the applicability of such intervention and implementation in settings with limited resources based on these four systematic reviews and meta-analysis.”


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How vitamin D could help with the respiratory system

“Adding vitamin D to food would reduce deaths and significantly cut NHS costs,” The Guardian reported.

A review of existing data estimates that supplementing food with vitamin D would prevent millions and flu cases and possibly save lives.

Researchers looked at data from 25 previous studies where vitamin D was compared with a placebo.

The studies explored the effect of vitamin D in preventing acute respiratory tract infections.

These are infections on the body’s airways, such as colds, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia.

In a study with US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the role of vitamin D in helping with a respiratory infection was investigated.

The study noted: “Vitamin D appears capable of inhibiting pulmonary inflammatory responses while enhancing innate defence mechanisms against respiratory pathogens. Population-based studies showing an association between circulating vitamin D levels and lung function provide strong justification for randomized controlled clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation in patients with respiratory diseases to assess both efficacy and optimal dosage.”

The study found that exposure to sunlight has been known for more than 100 years to help with the treatment of tuberculosis due to vitamin D’s anti-microbial activity and shows that having an adequate amount of vitamin D reduced the bacterial load from respiratory infections.

Vitamin D helps with respiratory inflammation, asthma and influenza and could help protect you against viral infections. 

The association of UK dieticians said: “Vitamin D works with calcium and phosphorous for healthy bones, muscles and teeth. It is also important in protecting muscle strength and preventing rickets, osteomalacia and falls.

“In normal circumstances, sunshine, not food, is where most of your vitamin D comes from. So even a healthy, well-balanced diet that provides all the vitamins and nutrients you need, is unlikely to provide enough vitamin D if you aren’t able to get enough sun. Now we are in spring, if you can, you should seek to spend some time outdoors in the sunshine.

“However, if you are having to self-isolate or if you are unable to go outside, you should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms to ensure a healthy vitamin D status.

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