We all are aware Vitamin D deficiency causes loss of bone density and hence leads to osteoporosis. In children, its deficiency causes rickets. We are also aware that the richest source of this vitamin is the omnipresent sunlight. Vitamin D is also offered to patients suffering from Covid-19, but is it effective?
What Vitamin D does for us
Vitamin D is present in our bodies in two forms. One is bound to a protein while the other is free-floating. Our genetic make-up influences the amount of protein-bound Vitamin D we have. It can neither be increased nor decreased. It is the free-floating form that is responsible for our innate immunity. We can increase the free-floating vitamin by supplements. Which in turn improves the balance of our immune system.
How our immune system works
Inflammation is our body’s natural response when attached by an antigen including Covid-19. It is our innate immunity that is quick and immediate. It comes into action within few hours and defends or slows down the antigen growth, till our body generates antibodies against it. Till this point, Vitamin D plays no role.
Vitamin D working mechanism
Our body has an anti-inflammatory mechanism called T-regulatory lymphocytes (T-regs) which reduces inflammation. Hence we achieve the desired response and do not allow the immune system to go overboard.
Researches have shown that people with higher free-floating Vitamin D have higher T-regs. Hence the balancing act is executed very well. A higher amount of Vitamin D cannot prevent individuals from getting infected with Covid-19. Also once our innate immune mechanism has been initiated by our body, giving Vitamin D supplements does not increase T-regs. However, people with higher T-regs are likely to have a less severe condition. Their hospital stays or use of a ventilator is seen to have reduced to a large extent. Also, the danger of life is reduced many folds.
Who all need to worry
Vitamin D levels are found to be low in obese people and people with diabetes. People with darker skin or older populations have also shown lower levels of floating Vitamin D. Hence explaining the severe cases of Covid-19 that we have seen so far.
How to create a Vitamin D bank
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is also responsible for the intestinal absorption of calcium, phosphate, and magnesium in our bodies. Hence we have to regulate our diet so that we have healthy fats. This will enable better absorption and thus increase floating form too. Besides strengthening our bones, it reduces our risk of pneumonia and other dangers related to over response of our immune system.
Vitamin D is present in very limited food sources such as:
- Oily fish
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods like fat spreads and some breakfast cereals
Preventive Vitamin D
We need to remember that Vitamin D levels work only as a preventive measure that is if your level of Vitamin D is within the body’s required range it will help you fight the Coronavirus. However, it is not a cure. If you are deficient in Vitamin D and infected with Coronavirus administering Vitamin D will not help reduces the infection.
we can test for Vitamin D deficiency by a simple blood test. Everyone should take this test at least once a year as most Indians and especially women are found to be deficient in it.
Do seek professional medical advice and guidance before taking any supplements as doctors are the best guides. Do not take medicines on hearsay and from prescriptions that are in circulation on social media as both overdose and underdose of everything can be harmful.