Why vitamin D3 is important against COVID

When talking about vitamin D3, one usually thinks of strengthening the bones. But a new study reveals its potency in helping the immune system fight infection.

The research found that vitamin D3 could balance people’s immune systems and help strengthen defenses against viral infections like the one that causes COVID-19.

The job collaboration of the Universities of Surrey and Brighton, analyzed the impact on health of two sister vitamins: D2 and D3. While the results showed that vitamin D2 had no significant influence on health, D3 it had a modifying effect on the immune system that could strengthen the body against viral and bacterial diseases.

Professor Colin Smith, lead author of the study, said: “We have shown that vitamin D3 appears to stimulate the type I interferon signaling system in the body, a key part of the immune system that provides a first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. Therefore, a healthy vitamin D3 status can help prevent viruses and bacteria from gaining a foothold in the body.”

“Our study suggests that it is important for people to take a vitamin D3 supplement or properly fortified foods, especially in the winter months,” he added.

Although some foods are fortified with vitamin D, such as some breakfast cereals, yogurts, and breads, few contain the vitamin naturally. Vitamin D3 is produced naturally in the skin from exposure to sunlight or artificial UVB ultraviolet light.

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Many people have insufficient levels of vitamin D3 because they live in places where sunlight is limited in winter, or they don’t spend enough time in the sun. The COVID-19 pandemic has also limited people’s natural exposure to the sun as they spend more time indoors.

Professor Susan Lanham-New, co-author of the study and Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Surrey, said:

“These results show that vitamin D3 should be consumed through fortified foods and supplements.”

Vitamin D Facts

Vitamin D is a nutrient found in foods, supplements, and in ultraviolet rays from the sun. Along with its first cousin, calcium helps bones grow and stay strong.

Hake oil, swordfish, tuna and fortified dairy products are among the foods that contain the most vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency—meaning not enough of this nutrient in the body—can cause weakening of the bones and osteoporosis. It can also weaken the immune system, opening the door to many diseases and chronic conditions.

If you live north of an imaginary line that connects San Francisco with Philadelphia, or don’t spend at least 15 minutes in the sun each day, your vitamin D level may be below normal. Conversely, people who live in warm areas tend to have more time in the year to absorb vitamin D naturally.

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Dark-skinned people, older adults, and those who are overweight are also at higher risk for lower levels of this vitamin.

Globally, one billion people are deficient in vitamin D, and in the United States it is one in four.

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