By: Rithwik Korukonda Bhattar
In New York City, 41% of COVID 19 patients were obese and people with obesity are 3 times more likely to be Vitamin D deficient. An observational study published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research used data from 20 European countries regarding the average Vitamin D levels. According to it, the average Vitamin levels are low in Italy and Spain and surprisingly, these have had high Coronavirus death rates compared to the Northern European countries who have higher Vitamin D levels from the consumption of cod liver and Supplements. So where does Vitamin D come into the picture when talking about COVID 19?
First of all, What is Vitamin D? Is it just a Vitamin? The answer is no. Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone, which is created when the sun’s UVB radiations hit our skin. This puts certain populations at a high risk of deficiency, such as the Elderly, people with obesity, and people with darker skin. So what does this have to do with COVID-19?
COVID-19 triggers our innate immune system, which consists of dendritic cells, monocytes, and macrophages. Each of these has a special receptor called the Vitamin D receptor. Vitamin D acts as a power up which bonds to these cells and morphs them to express certain genes which can turn them into more efficient COVID-19 killers. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, and enters our alveoli through an entrance called the ACE2(Angiotensin converting enzyme 2). The ACE2 along with ACE together form a part of the Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System, which is a hormone system that regulates our Blood pressure. COVID-19 destroys the ACE2 receptors which creates an imbalance that leads to Pulmonary vasoconstriction, which eventually leads to lung failure. Vitamin D helps increase ACE2 receptors in the lungs which would help restore balance.
COVID-19 also can affect the cytokine storm. Cytokines are basically our immune system’s messengers, and give instructions to regulate inflammation levels. You could say that Cytokines are the drivers of our immune system. Covid 19 would cause these immune cells to attack our lungs instead of protecting it. This would result in blood clots, vessel bursts, and eventually death. In this case, Vitamin D will prevent this from happening by up regulating anti inflammatory cytokines and down regulating inflammatory cytokines. Vitamin D would eventually help reduce inflammation levels.
We have covered a small portion of Vitamin D and its effects but there is one thing we can conclude on. At an affordable price, Vitamin D could be a convenient way for the common man to combat COVID-19.