An extra help against the new coronavirus? Without a doubt, vitamin D. This vitamin, in fact, not only protects bones and muscles, but also our respiratory tract. Until now, the protective role of vitamin D against new coronavirus infection had been hypothesized, although some results did not allow for complete agreement among scientists. Thanks to very recent research, however, it has been possible to understand the differences between scientific studies and demonstrate the ability of vitamin D to protect against a severe course in case of infection. The research was published in Scientific Reports by an English team (Li et al, Scientific Reports, 2021).
Vitamin D and infections
Previous studies had linked a vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of contracting viral and bacterial infections. Similarly, it was also possible to observe a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and a risk of new coronavirus infection. However, one of the criticisms leveled at these conclusions is that these effects could be attributed, more than to vitamin D deficiency, to other conditions such as obesity, old age and chronic diseases, associated with low levels of vitamin D. One way to overcome this ambiguity in the reading of the data it is given by a calculation at the genetic level of the amount of vitamin D that should be found in a given individual regardless of other factors such as health and lifestyle. In short, it is a question of calculating the hereditary component of vitamin D. However, these attempts until now have never been successful. The reason, as explained by the researchers of the study we are talking about today, is that the hereditary component that is deduced from the genes actually only minimally affects the levels of vitamin D, and in any case only in winter. Instead, in the other seasons, vitamin D levels are mainly determined by the body's exposure to sunlight. This was the aspect that has never been taken into consideration until now.
Vitamin D, sun rays and the novel coronavirus
So, to fill this gap, researchers calculated the levels of UVB sun rays, the key for vitamin D production through the skin, for nearly 500,000 people living in the UK in their area of residence before the outbreak of the pandemic. These data were then associated with the health status and a possible new coronavirus infection of the study participants. What emerged was that the greater the amount of UVB rays present in the residence area before the outbreak of the pandemic, the lower the risk of hospitalization and death following infection with the new coronavirus. Hence, this shows that vitamin D protects against possible complications and severe course in case of new coronavirus infection.
The important thing is to avoid a vitamin D deficiency
Therefore, as the researchers themselves conclude, it is certainly worthwhile, especially in view of the winter months that are about to arrive, to resort to vitamin D supplements, to include in one's diet foods that contain vitamin D, such as mushrooms, cheeses or fish, or sunbathing when possible, always with due precautions. These actions not only benefit bone health but also allow our immune system to work in the best conditions to face any external threat. Without clearly removing the normal hygiene measures, masks and distancing.