Cheap, low-risk vitamin D can strengthen the immune response to COVID-19: Experts – science

There is no clinical evidence to show that low levels of vitamin D lead to severe symptoms of Covid-19, but there is a clear link between “sun vitamin” and immune responses to the disease, experts say, as the pandemic spreads around the world. and concerns grow over a new mutant strain. (Pixabay)

There is no clinical evidence to show that low levels of vitamin D lead to severe symptoms of Covid-19, but there is a clear link between “sun vitamin” and immune responses to the disease, experts say, as the pandemic spreads around the world. and concerns grow over a new mutant strain.

Emphasizing that vitamin D is cheap and poses a negligible risk compared to the considerable risk of Covid-19, global researchers in the disease have called on governments to be part of their strategy against the new coronavirus.

Many factors, such as age, male and comorbidities, are known to predispose individuals to an increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, but inadequate vitamin D is by far the easiest and fastest modifiable risk factor. abundant to sustain a great benefit. effect, said Prof. Afrozul Haq, former dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (SIST) at Jamia Hamdard University in New Delhi.

He is one of 170 experts who wrote an open letter earlier this month.

Calling for an immediate increase in increased vitamin D intake, the letter posted on states that “research shows that low levels of vitamin D almost certainly promote Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”

“This group of research campaigns on vitamin D and Covid-19, including myself, began the process of writing this letter in order to make everyone aware of the benefits of vitamin D supplementation in patients infected with Covid-19 and to send this letter to all health ministries, health workers, government agencies and NGOs, ”Haq told ITP. According to the letter, which had 171 signatories by Wednesday, the evidence suggests the possibility that the Covid-19 pandemic will be largely sustained by infection with those with low vitamin D, and deaths are largely concentrated in those with deficiencies.

The mere possibility that this should necessitate the urgent collection of more data on vitamin D. Even without more data, the predominance of evidence indicates that increased vitamin D would help reduce infections, hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths. ” he said.

As the debate on this topic has grown, immunologist Vineeta Bal has added a note of skepticism, noting that most experts are in developed countries, where daily vitamin D supplementation can be feasible, practical and affordable.

“But this is not the case with India. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in India. Regular supplementation is not part of the standard recommendations, not even for pregnant women, ”said Bal, a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Education and Scientific Research in Pune.

If people are severely deficient, the supplement, as recommended in the letter, will likely take weeks or months to reach the desired levels of vitamin D in the serum, she said.

The scientists added that this cannot be considered an emergency measure, when the country lacks manpower and facilities even for the vaccination program. In her opinion, vitamin D supplementation should be a long-term, non-urgent measure and something that could be useful in the Covid-19 scenario as well.

“Not only vitamin D, other vitamins and micronutrients such as zinc have also shown beneficial effects,” she explained.

According to Prof Srijit Mishra, another signatory of the letter, the recommendation is vitamin D intake for adults with up to 4,000 international units (IU) or 100 micrograms (mcg) daily. Those at increased risk of deficiency due to being overweight, dark-skinned or living in care homes may need higher intakes.

“Current evidence suggests that serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels above 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng / ml), a test for measuring vitamin D levels, are a widely accepted minimum to reduce the risk of Covid-19,” said Mishra. at the Indira Gandhi Institute in Mumbai Development Research (IGIDR), said for PTI.

Bal said that vitamin D is generally known to have many beneficial contributions to the immune response and added: “There are no reports, as far as I know, that there are radical improvements in vitamin D supplementation in normal people.” In his opinion, vitamin D may have an additional role to play with other drugs, but not a primary role. The link between vitamin D and better immune competence exists based on experimental data, and patient data are almost invariably associative and do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, she said.

Although no clinical trials have tested the effectiveness of vitamin D as a treatment or preventative measure, several studies have found an association between low levels of vitamin D and Covid-19.

However, a review of five of these studies by the National Institute for Excellence in Health and Care (NICE) in the UK concludes that the studies provide no evidence that vitamin D levels influence the risk of obtaining Covid-19 or die as a result.

“There is no evidence to support the administration of vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat Covid-19,” the study authors wrote.

Mishra also noted that evidence so far regarding risk factors for low-vitamin Covid-19 is associated, with some studies indicating that low vitamin levels had a higher risk in infection rates. and positivity.

He said a communication from the NNEdPro Global Center for Nutrition and Health in the UK provided a 10-point summary of diet, nutrition and the role of micronutrients in combating Covid-19.

“The note identifies the relevance of various micronutrients, including vitamin D. However, as the wording of NNEdPro clearly points out, this nutrition advice should not be a substitute for key public health and medical advice on prevention,” Mishra said. said.

(This story was published from an agency stream with no text changes.)

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