Coronavirus, the possible protective role of vitamin D
It dates back to a few days ago a press release written by two doctors, Prof. Giancarlo Isaia, Professor of Geriatrics and President of the Academy of Medicine of Turin, and Prof. Enzo Medico, Full Professor of Histology at the University of Turin, in which they speak of a possible beneficial role of vitamin D in the fight against coronavirus. The press release is based on direct observations and on previous scientific studies. Given the emergency, the study was unable to carry out the normal procedure required for scientific research but at the moment it has already been submitted to the members of the Academy of Medicine of Turin who considered it very interesting. The press release is available online in Italian. Let's try to understand what it says and what advice it offers to the general population.
An adequate intake of vitamin D could lead to a greater resistance of the body to COVID-19 infection, this is what the two Italian doctors say. This observation is based on a series of scientific facts and evidence. In particular, vitamin D has an immunomodulatory role and counteracts the replication of viruses in the respiratory tract (Beard et al, J Clin Virol, 2012). Not only that, it is considered very important, for the conclusions of the two doctors, a research still in preprint format, this means not yet published but under development. This study states that vitamin D can reduce the incidence, severity and risk of complications in flu, pneumonia but also novel coronavirus (Grant et al, March 2020). Furthermore, on the basis of preliminary data collected in Turin regarding patients affected by the novel coronavirus and hospitalized, it emerged that many had levels of vitamin D below the minimum threshold.
It should be noted that this is only a press release, it is not a scientific research published in a magazine. It is also true, however, that in an emergency situation such as the one we are in, it is not possible to follow the normally required steps. Therefore, what has been observed can be considered a useful indication for everyone, even for the most at risk categories such as the elderly and doctors or nurses, namely that lifestyle can help support the immune system in the fight against coronavirus. Clearly diet and lifestyle cannot replace the prevention rules in place, such as keeping the safety distance of at least one meter, preferably two or 6 feet, not touching your face with dirty hands, often washing your hands with soap and water and using a disinfectant solution given by water and alcohol at least 60%, but they can be used together with these methods. And how to ensure an adequate intake of vitamin D, set, for adults, at 15 micro grams per day? This can be achieved with adequate exposure to sunlight, always without exaggerating and by taking care not to expose yourself without protection in the central hours of the day, or through certain foods, such as mushrooms, the article mentions shiitake mushrooms (a handful brings 1,1 micro grams of vitamin) or honey mushrooms (half a dish provides 4,2 micro grams), fish, such as anchovies (a dozen bring 16,5 micro grams), mackerel (small mackerel 4,4 micro grams), sea bass (a fillet 16, 5 micro grams) or red mullet (2 micro grams), eggs (1 egg 0,9 micro grams) and cheeses, such as crescenza or stracchino (small portion 0,5 micro grams). The use of any supplements must always be agreed with your doctor.