Vitamin D is a known essential vitamin for healthy teeth and bone structure. Studies have shown that vitamin D may have important functions beyond bone homeostasis. It may also boost the immune system and decrease the risk of acquiring illnesses such as respiratory tract infections.
In this article:
- All About Vitamin D, Benefits, and Sources
- Vitamin D for Immunity and Possibly Coronavirus
- Vitamin D Deficiency: Who is at risk?
All About Vitamin D, Benefits, and Sources
Vitamin D helps in the regulation and absorption of calcium and phosphate amounts in the body. These nutrients are essential to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Vitamin D is one of the only two vitamins the human body can produce and synthesize.
Vitamin D Roles and Benefits
Vitamin D plays significant roles in the body, including:
- promoting healthy bones and teeth
- regulating insulin levels and supporting diabetes management
- aiding cardiovascular health and lung function
- influencing the expression of genes involved in cancer development
- supporting immune, brain, and nervous system health
A study also suggested that Vitamin D may decrease mortality in older adults, although more studies need to be conducted. Research also shows that vitamin D might help prevent certain cancers, improve cognitive functions, osteoporosis, treat psoriasis, and reduce multiple sclerosis risks.
Sources and Recommended Intake
Sun exposure is a natural way for most people to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D. The body produces vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in your skin into its active form, calciferol.
Aside from sun exposure, some food may have a small number of Vitamin D. These sources include:
- fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, and herring
- red meat and liver
- egg yolks
- fortified spreads and cereals.
Supplements are also a source of vitamin D to reach the recommended amount of:
- children up to age 12 months – 400 IU
- ages 1 to 70 years – 600 IU
- adults over 70 years – 800 IU
Although generally safe, it is not advisable to consume vitamin D more than the recommended amount. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, too much of it may result in the risk of storage of excessive amounts in the body and may lead to increased absorption of calcium and phosphate.
Vitamin D for Immunity and Corona Virus?
Vitamin D has been known to have a vital role in bone homeostasis. This vital function extends to vitamin D’s ability to modulate innate and adaptive immune responses.
Several pieces of literature have shown the link between Vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of infection. Vitamin D has been unintentionally used to treat infections, including tuberculosis, even before the development of effective antibiotics.
One report studied almost 19,000 subjects between 1988 and 1994. Participants with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to report a recent upper respiratory tract infection compared to those with sufficient levels.
COVID-19 and Vitamin D
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease that causes moderate to mild respiratory illness. Older people and those with underlying comorbidities like chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer are more likely to develop severe illness.
Vitamin D treatment has been found to have a link in the decreased incidence of viral respiratory tract infection, particularly in patients with vitamin D deficiency.
According to a study of 489 patients with Vitamin D levels tested in the year before COVID-19 testing, the risk of Vitamin D deficient patients getting positive COVID results was 1.77 higher than patients with sufficient vitamin D level.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher risk of COVID-19; however, it cannot be seen as a treatment for COVID-19. This is a retrospective study that mainly compared the patterns between patients with vitamin D deficiency and those with sufficient levels in line with COVID-19 infection. Nevertheless, Vitamin D may still aid in increased immunity against infections and overall health.
Vitamin D Deficiency: Who is at Risk?
Although Vitamin D may be easily obtained from sun exposure, certain groups of people may not get enough of it, especially when they:
- are in an institution like a care home
- are housebound or spending less time outdoors due to the nature of the job
- wear cover-ups or clothing to avoid sun exposure when outdoors.
- live in a cold region such as Canada or northern America
For instance, people who have dark skin, people of African, African-Caribbean, or south Asian background, may not be able to get vitamin D from sunlight. This is because high melanin in the skin inhibits synthesization of vitamin D.
Vitamin deficiency may lead to weaker and brittle bones, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer. If vitamin D is not accessible due to weather or other environmental factors, you might need vitamin supplements to reach the dietary goal. Taking a Vitamin D supplement is an alternative in achieving the recommended intake.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is classically associated with maintaining healthy bones and teeth. In addition to these, vitamin D has been linked to an increased immune system, particularly in illnesses such as respiratory infections, tuberculosis, vaginosis, and HIV. In a recent study about the COVID-19 pandemic, Vitamin D deficiency has shown to have a link in the risk of acquiring the virus. However, more studies are needed to arrive at a definitive conclusion.
How do you acquire vitamin D for your health? Let us know in the comments section!