Importance of Vitamin-D in COVID Times

Vitamin D is classified as a fat soluble vitamin and plays a key role to keep us healthy. It is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D, along with calcium, helps in  keeping the  bones strong and healthy. It also helps in reducing inflammation, aiding cell growth and boosting immune function. It also has a role in prevention of certain cancers. The role of vitamin D in triggering immune cells to produce antibodies is vital in these Covid times. 

Vitamin D deficiency is now a global public health problem affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. 

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, having normal levels of Vitamin D is of high importance. Vitamin D regulates the immune response of white blood cells by preventing them from releasing too many inflammatory cytokines. Excess of cytokines can lead to cytokine storm, which is a complication associated with COVID-19. Adequate Vitamin D levels is considered one of the factors that could reduce mortality due to Covid 19. Vitamin D is low in older people and this may be one of the reasons, they are  more prone to get affected by COVID-19.

Vitamin D deficiency can be caused by specific medical conditions, such as Cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, weight loss surgeries, obesity, kidney and liver diseases.

Importance of Vitamin-D in COVID times

Many people with vitamin D deficiency have no symptoms. However, the deficiency can cause the following issues.

• Fatigue and muscle weakness

• Frequent infections or illnesses

• Bone and joint pain

• Slow wound healing

• Mood changes like depression

• Fractures

In adults, vitamin D deficiency can cause osteomalacia and osteoporosis, which can result in falls, bone breaks, and poor healing following fractures.

Severe lack of vitamin D causes rickets, which shows up in children as incorrect growth patterns, weakness in muscles, pain in bones and deformities in joints. This is a very rare condition. However, children who are deficient in vitamin D can also have muscle weakness or sore and painful muscles. Symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency in children include:

• irritability

• lethargy

• bone pain or fractures

• deformities of the teeth

• developmental delays

The amount of vitamin D that is needed to correct a deficiency will depend on the severity of the deficiency and your individual medical condition. Vitamin D3 has been shown to be the best choice for supplements. Vitamin D supplements should be taken with a meal that contains fat. There are supplements that can be taken on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. If you are found deficient, it is recommended to have your blood tested after two to three months of taking the supplement to be sure that your levels are going up. Another reason to monitor the levels of vitamin D, is to ensure that the levels do not exceed the normal range, since this can lead to toxicity.

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Dr Tanvi Gupta

Dr Tanvi is a public health professional. She has women related health issues in India as her major area of interest. She is currently engaged in an awareness programme about incidence of cancer among women in general and cervical cancer in particular.

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