KEY POINTS

  • Vitamin D levels of many people dwindled during the pandemic
  • Vitamin D deficiency could lead to heart disease and certain types of cancers
  • The sun is the best source of vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that the body needs to carry out and maintain certain processes for growth. When its level in the body significantly drops, certain conditions that could be life-threatening become inevitable. 

In recent months, vitamin D has been gaining a lot of attention especially since some reports have claimed that it could lower the risk of COVID-19. But there’s still a dearth of scientific evidence to prove this. Nevertheless, what remains undeniable is the fact that vitamin D offers a wide range of health benefits. 

A new study published in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health established what’s known and proven about vitamin D’s benefits and its alleged effect on the novel coronavirus and other respiratory tract infections. The researchers said that they examined vitamin D in relation to COVID-19 because there’s been widespread misinformation about the vitamin on social media amid the pandemic.

After analyzing data from multiple studies from different parts of the world, the researchers concluded that vitamin D is indeed essential for good health. However, they also found that the vitamin D levels of many people in northern latitude countries, such as Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Northern Europe and northern areas of the U.S., were quite poor, especially during the winter months. 

The team of researchers also surmised that vitamin D levels of many people may have also dwindled during the pandemic as most are confined within their own homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As such, they are recommending everyone to take vitamin D supplements to satisfy their body’s needs for the organic substance. 

Adrian Martineau, PhD, told Consumer Reports that vitamin D does help lower the chances of catching viruses because it supports “a range of antiviral responses.” It also boosts the lungs' ability to combat viruses and bacteria, which is very important given that COVID-19 targets the respiratory system. 

Martineau, who is a clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London, also said that vitamin D puts the brakes on the immune system, so that it won’t overly respond to viral attacks. Severe infections could lead the immune system to carry out an exuberant response wherein the body attacks even the normal tissues and not just the virus.

Vitamin D plays an important role in bone and teeth development. When this organic substance is deficient in the body, these tissues could suffer and become brittle. Very low levels of vitamin D could also lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, immune system disorders, multiple sclerosis, and certain types of cancers, such as colon, prostate, and breast, according to Cleveland Clinic

The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Staying outdoors to bask in the sun’s rays for a few minutes a day could help improve vitamin D levels. Eating foods rich in this vitamin, like tuna, beef liver, cheese and mushrooms could also do the trick. But given the present situation of the world, taking vitamin D supplements is the most ideal as it could really provide the body with the amount it regularly needs. 

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