This Morning: Dr Chris discusses vitamin D and Covid
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Since the start of the pandemic many of us have been wary about frequently cited ways to protect ourselves from COVID-19. Thorough hand washing and wearing face masks were common habits that reduced the risk of infection. However, when it came to the severity of illness it seemed like this was beyond our control.
Certain people are more vulnerable to experiencing severe Covid symptoms.
For example, those who are older and those who have existing health conditions are more likely to have a difficult recovery.
But a new study, published in Pharmaceuticals journal, revealed that you could in fact diminish the impact of Covid by taking vitamin D supplements.
The research, conducted by a team from Italy, followed on from previous trials investigating the use of vitamin D.
It explained: “The COVID-19 pandemic represents one of the world’s most important challenges for global public healthcare.
“Various studies have found an association between severe vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19-related outcomes.
“Vitamin D plays a crucial role in immune function and inflammation.
“Recent data have suggested a protective role of vitamin D in COVID-19-related health outcomes.
“The purpose of this meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis (TSA) was to better explain the strength of the association between the protective role of vitamin D supplementation and the risk of mortality and admission to intensive care units (ICUs) in patients with COVID-19.”
As part of the study, the team searched four databases, finding information on four randomised controlled trials “suitable” for their analysis.
They found a correlation between taking vitamin D supplements and less severe outcomes for Covid patients.
“Vitamin D administration results in a decreased risk of death and ICU admission,” the study said.
“The TSA of the protective role of vitamin D and ICU admission showed that, since the pooling of the studies reached a definite sample size, the positive association is conclusive.”
How much vitamin D is beneficial
The study explained how the vitamin was already shown to protect against respiratory issues prior to the pandemic.
“Various studies conducted before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic showed that patients who received vitamin D supplements had a lower risk of acute respiratory infections and a shorter duration of symptoms,” it said.
This was true among patients taking between 400 and 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily for up to a year.
One trial considered in the study, showed that 5,000 IU of vitamin D supplementation lowered recovery time from Covid among patients.
However, the NHS warns against taking more than 4,000 IU (equivalent to 100 micrograms) of vitamin D a day as this can be “harmful”.
Vitamin D supplements available to buy in the UK typically range from 400 to 4,000 IU per serving.
Symptoms of Covid include:
- A high temperature or shivering
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- An aching body
- A headache
- A sore throat
- A blocked or runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling sick or being sick.
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