Is there any effect of Vitamin D on COVID 19?

COVID 19 has become a devastating turning point throughout the world. As it originated in Wuhan, China in 2019, most of the other countries were not prepared enough to face it back in the day. But with the rapid spread of the virus, countries came up with many remedies and precautions to face the virus. So many vaccines were tested against it, so many local treatments and drugs were tested against it and also many food items were tested against it. Almost everybody focused on having a healthy lifestyle as well as getting the recommended food and vitamins to keep the immunity at a strong level to fight the Coronavirus.

In the process of strengthening your immunity, there are a few healthy habits that you will have to practice. You have to get the adequate amounts of recommended food items and other nutrients as the first step. Because you won’t be able to fight the virus if you don’t have enough energy within your body, make your diet plans according to the recommendations. Also, you have to do exercises regularly so that you can keep the fitness of the body on point. And you have to practice the health precautions such as washing hands, wearing a mask when going into public places, using sanitizers after touching public places such as cafeteria tables, public taps, public washrooms, staircases, etc. Also, it is recommended to keep the interpersonal distance of 1m between two persons at least. With these health practices, you will be able to reduce the risk of getting infected.

Other than these precautions, if you have any symptoms of COVID’19, you may admit to a hospital as soon as possible. And in a condition where the hospitals have run out of the capacity of admission of patients, you may have to cure the disease at home. In this case, you will have to follow the health practices thoroughly. In such a case, make sure you keep the distance from other people at home to avoid getting infected. Also, you have to steam your nasal tract, especially the throat on regular basis, as that way, the viruses are destroyed within the tract at a 70C temperature. Also, you may take the recommended food items to build up your energy within the body.

What are these food and supplements recommended for COVID 19?

According to the World Health Organization, food items such as fruits (ex: lime, oranges fruits with vitamin C) , vegetables (ex: lentils, beans), nuts, whole grains (ex: maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice), starchy tubers or roots (ex: potatoes, yams, taro, cassava), animal sources (ex: milk, eggs, meat, fish), bee honey, tea are classified as food that strengthen your immunity. Also they have recommended some supplements such as zinc, melatonin, vitamin C, vitamin D. These food items and supplements are recommended with the evidence of proper action towards immunity when treating corona virus.

All of these items show unique physiological mechanisms in the body in maintaining immunity and fighting the virus. Among these supplements, we are going to specifically focus on vitamin D as a remedy to COVID’19.

What are the benefits of vitamin D to the body?

As you know, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is responsible for many vital functions of the body such as increasing intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate. Researches have proven that having an adequate amount of vitamin D in the body can help your immune system to stay healthy and also it may protect against any respiratory illnesses as COVID’19. Also, it has shown that the COVID’19 patients who got adequate amounts of vitamin D have reduced the risk of getting the adversities into a critical condition. So let’s look deep into how vitamin D acts against this infection.

Vitamin D, also known as calciferol is considered a major vitamin needed by the body. It exists inside the body as Cholecalciferol, Ergocalciferol, vitamin D2, and vitamin D3. It is recognized as playing a major role in the body’s calcium homeostasis. It is given as a supplement to many disease conditions such as rickets, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and vitamin D deficiency. Also, it is used in cardiovascular diseases, cancer treatments, diabetes treatments, infections, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, respiratory diseases, etc. So you can see, this is a much valuable supplement that you should have in several conditions. Vitamin D helps to keep your bones and teeth healthy.

What happens in Vitamin D deficiency?

Well, as the name depicts, vitamin D deficiency means a low concentration of vitamin D than the normal level, for a long period of time. This can occur if you do not intake enough vitamin D through diet or supplements. if you have any malabsorption problem with the gastrointestinal tract if you don’t expose to sunlight enough, if your liver is incapable of converting pro vitamin D to the activated form, or if you are taking any drugs that alter the activity of vitamin D within your body.   

How can you know that you have vitamin D deficiency?

This can commonly occur if you are breastfeeding the baby, if you are an adult as your skin reduce the synthesis of vitamin D when exposed to sun light, if you are a dark skinned person as the dark skin has a less ability to produce vitamin D, if you are a person who is taking medicine that alter the levels of vitamin D in your body, if you are a lymphoma or granuloma patient, if you have hyperthyroidism, if you have a chronic kidney or liver disease, if you have done a gastric bypass surgery,  if you have osteoporosis, if you are obese as the body fat bind with vitamin D and reduce the level of vitamin D passing to the blood, or if you have a disorder such as Crohn’s syndrome, or celiac disease.

So if you are in one of these categories you surely need to add some extra vitamin D in your meals. Vitamin D2 is mostly rich in plant sources while vitamin D3 is rich in animal sources.

What is the difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3?

Well, they have two closely alike molecular structures with very little difference, but vitamin D2 is mainly synthesized in plants and vitamin D3 is mainly synthesized in animals. Even we produce vitamin D through exposure of the skin to ultra violet B rays. Apart from that, there’s no functional difference identified yet by any study. But there can be slight differences between the two. Vitamin D3 has shown higher blood levels for a longer time than vitamin D2. But the very researchers have claimed that with the factors such as age, gender, BMI, ethnicity, food culture these observations can be changed.

How does vitamin D affect on respiratory health?

Same as for the corona viral infection, vitamin D is a good medicine for other respiratory diseases as well. Researches have proven that vitamin D is capable of inhibition of pulmonary inflammatory responses and enhancing defense against pathogens. Specially the supplements of vitamin D3 are shown as preventing acute infections in the respiratory tract.

When looking in to depth of this matter, the anti-inflammatory actions occur by the increased secretion of antimicrobial peptide Cathelicidin, decreased chemokine production, inhibition of dendritic cells activation, and by the alteration of T cell activation in the respiratory tract.  These substances kill the microbes including viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoans entering to the respiratory tract through inspiration air. So definitely it is effective in corona virus infection too.

But can you use as many vitamin D supplements as you like?

Definitely no. You must not take any food, drink or a supplement more than the necessary amount. The same theory applies for vitamin D as well. As it is a vitamin, you can get toxicities as well as adverse effects of over dosage if you take them without a proper control. 

How much vitamin D should you get per day?

Well, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended an amount of 400 units per day for infants as well as adolescents. For adults, it is recommended as 700 to 1000 units per day. To be more specific, for any age group, the limit of 10- 20 micrograms can e recommended. But some studies have shown that you have to take 25- 100 micrograms to maintain an optimal level in the blood.

According to Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA),

Infants between 0-12 months 10 micrograms per day
Children between 1- 13 years 15 micro grams per day
Teenagers between 14-18 years and pregnant and lactating mothers 15 micro grams per day
Adults between 19- 50 years15 micro grams per day
Adults over 50 years 20 micro grams per day

Anyways, it depends on your physiology and the biochemistry of the body. Always make sure to consult a physician, a nurse, a pharmacist, or any other resourceful healthcare professional before taking your dose. Because these values can change according to the presence of other diseases in your body as well. For example, those who have done kidney transplants, glomerulonephritis, cancers, are not recommended these doses. They have to consult their relevant specialists to adjust their dose instead.

There are no contraindications for vitamin D supplements so far. But if you are a pregnant or lactating woman, be a little bit cautious about how many supplements you take. This is necessary for pregnant and lactating women as well, because they have to make sure the baby receives an adequate amount of vitamin D from them. But over dosage of it can lead both you and the baby to harsh situations.

What other sources can you get vitamin D from?

As mentioned above, vitamin D can exist in the body as vitamin D3 which is also called Cholecalciferol, and vitamin D2 which is called Ergocalciferol. Cholecalciferol is actually synthesized in the skin by exposure to the UV rays of the mid-day sun. Ergocalciferol can be taken from many plant products and animal products such as salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, mackerel, sardines, mushrooms ex: shiitake mushrooms), egg yolk, fortified food, cheese, milk, beef liver, breakfast cereals, orange juice, soy drinks, etc.

What happens when you get more vitamin D than necessary?

In the clinical trials, there have been several adverse reactions of high doses of vitamin D. But this depends on the body conditions of the person as well. Other than the body conditions of the user, some food and drugs are taken by the user may also induce interactions with vitamin D when taken together. For example, the use of statins has shown increased vitamin D levels in the blood. Some corticosteroid hormones decrease the metabolism of vitamin D. Drugs such as Phenobarbital and Phenytoin increase the hepatic metabolism of vitamin D.

Anyway the high intake of vitamin D can cause 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood in the mounts of 150ng/ml.

How can you identify that you have got vitamin D toxicity?

Obviously, when you take vitamin D without following the instructions of the health practitioners, you may get vitamin D toxicity. This may show some specific symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, and body weakness due to hypercalcemia.

As this is a calcium supplement, when you take it in higher doses for a prolonged time, you can develop calcium oxalate stones in your bladder, kidneys, liver, and gallbladder. Also, you can have hypercalciuria, where your urine output contains way too much calcium than normal. This can also lead to urinary tract obstructions which are quite painful.

Are there any side effects of vitamin D?

Yes. Even though you get the right dose of vitamin D you can still get some symptoms such as weakness, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, metallic taste, dizziness, loss of appetite, fatigue. These are the side effects of using vitamin D for a prolonged time. sometimes you may not get these side effects. It’s totally up to your body’s physiology.

How can you get rid of vitamin D toxicity?

Vitamin D toxicity can also be called hypercalcemia, as this increases blood calcium levels. If you are taking vitamin D supplements for a long time, you can reduce the intake of high calcium food simultaneously. Otherwise, the calcium level you get from the supplements and food items can cause hypercalcemia in your blood and this may lead to many other physiological problems within the body. Therefore, try to balance the level of calcium in your diet.

Also, you can reduce the risk of getting calcium oxalate stones in the bladder, kidneys, liver, and gallbladder by drinking an adequate amount of water. Drinking more water can dilute the concentration of calcium in your blood as well as in urine. When the concentration of calcium becomes low, the possibility of deposition of calcium in these organs also reduces.

What is the conclusion? If you get your vitamin D in the recommended dose, you have a better chance to develop your immunity towards coronavirus.

    

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