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Studies: vitamin D helps immune system fight COVID-19

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

Could vitamin D be the kryptonite to the coronavirus and the bullpen relief to keep sports playing?
There are many medical personnel who note that proper levels of vitamin D bolster the immune system and that may be the key to battling the coronavirus.
Vitamin D actually converts to a hormone once it is in the body and boosts the immune system. Vitamin D can be found in such foods as oily fish, egg yolks and whole milk, but the best way to ensure the proper amount is with a supplement vitamin.
Another good way to get the necessary amount of vitamin D is simply to spend 15 to 20 minutes a day in sunlight, something that is often seen with patients in rest homes on a daily basis. This manner is the most natural and desirable way to get the needed level.
Vitamin D not only helps with the cornonavirus but with colds and flu which are also a virus. According to medical personnel, the body can have as many as 12 viruses in its system at one time.
Several research groups have found a correlation between people with higher and lower levels of vitamin D.
Researchers have studied other countries and found that the sickest patients often have the lowest levels of vitamin D and that countries with high death rates had larger numbers of people with vitamin D deficiency than countries with lower death rates.
Experts say healthy blood levels of vitamin D may give people with COVID-19 a survival advantage by helping them avoid cytokine storm which is when the immune system overreacts and attacks the body’s own cells and tissues instead of fighting an infection.
The early research has not been peer-reviewed as of yet and other experts say scientific proof is lacking that vitamin D could prevent COVID-19 or make the infection milder.
However, researchers in the United Kingdom evaluated the average vitamin D levels and the number of COVID-19 cases as well as the death rates across 20 European countries.
They found that countries with low average of vitamin D blood levels in the population had higher numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths according to study leader Petre Cristian Ilie, MD, PhD, who is the research and innovation director at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust in King’s Lynn, U.K.
And, Irish researchers analyzed European population studies and vitamin D levels and found that countries with high rates of vitamin D deficiency also had high death rates from COVID-19. Those researchers asked the government to raise the vitamin D recommendations.
One study said that there is an “indisputable relation between vitamin D and the immune system.”
Professor Philip Calder from the University of Southhampton in England added that vitamin C, zinc and DHA omega-3 also help fight viral infections.
The role of vitamin D in the immune system has been recognized for about 35 years. However, it was only in recent years that the implications of vitamin D deficiency on the immune system have become clearer.
People can store up vitamin D in their body for approximately two months. But once the sunny summer days give way to colder days of winter, supplement vitamins are the best route since foods do not produce enough vitamin D alone.
Anyone above the age of four should have 10 micrograms (400 IU) daily, especially from October to March. People at higher risk such as those with little or no exposure to the sun and people with darker skin are advised to take a supplement year-round.
The Department of Health recommends a daily limit of 100 micrograms or 4000 IU.