Within the past year our lives have been devastated by the coronavirus outbreak. During this difficult time we must try to ensure that we are the healthiest we can be, this in turn may give us an upper hand if we end up catching this terrible virus. We will look at how the government’s stance on vitamins is changing and how recent studies and research is indicating that taking certain vitamin supplements, especially vitamin D, could help in the fight against COVID-19.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has backtracked on a previous statement dismissing the protective effects of vitamin D against COVID-19. The Health Secretary stated that “vitamin D can help with broad health and there is no downside to taking it.”
Vitamin D supplements have already been recommended by health authorities for adults in the UK during the winter season as the sun is not strong enough to allow the human body to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. The recommendation has now been revised upwards – due to the current lockdown in the United Kingdom you should take vitamin D supplements daily.
Deficiencies in vitamin D can result in a weakened immune system, fatigue and bone pain to state a few issues so it’s very important to ensure that you are consuming the correct amounts, even if the lockdown rules in your area do allow you to go outside regularly.
Clinical trials and studies supporting the efficacy of vitamin D in reducing COVID-19 risk
Recently more and more evidence is building, suggesting that vitamin D can protect against coronaviruses. Studies undertaken by the University of Cordoba in Spain and published in the Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology supported this conclusion. Another study by Northwestern University concluded that risk of severe complications and death from COVID-19 doubled in patients with a lack of vitamin D.
The new CORONOVIT trial at the Queen Mary University of London will look at the possibility of whether correcting low vitamin D levels via a ‘test and treat’ method will decrease both the risk and seriousness of COVID-19 (in addition to other lung issues). The clinical study will assess 5000 people over a 6 month period.
Each participant will self-test for vitamin D deficiency using a simple blood test at home which they will post back to the scientists for testing. A six-monthly supply of a high or low dose of vitamin D supplement will then be posted to any participants who are identified as being deficient.
After this, the CORONVIT researchers will assess whether the supplements have had any effect on the seriousness and/or risk of COVID-19 infection or symptoms by reviewing data on severe respiratory infections across the test cohort.
Adam Martineau of the CORONOVIT study stated:
A recent research study, published earlier this month by the University of Birmingham, concluded that 51% percent of participants with healthy vitamin D levels tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, whereas seventy two percent of those who had a vitamin D deficiency tested positive for these antibodies. This demonstrated that the rate of COVID-19 infection was lower for those with the healthy vitamin D level. In July, Tel Aviv University in Israel, came to a similar conclusion. Of 782 people who participated in the Israeli study, those whose vitamin D levels were low had a forty five percent greater risk of testing positive and also had almost double the risk of hospitalisation.
All of these studies have concluded that low levels of vitamin D are linked to increased COVID-19 risks. The general UK population is at higher than usual risk of having low levels of vitamin D, and therefore will have these increased COVID-19 risks. Boosting levels of vitamin D by way of supplements (in conjunction with a balanced diet and regular exercise) may therefore decrease the risks associated with COVID-19, and the risk of contracting the virus itself.
Having reviewed the Government’s recent statement and the new research that is being released, it looks like scientists and the UK Government are reaching the same conclusion that vitamin D is one of the key vitamins to protect against COVID-19 risk, as well as being generally beneficial. Supplements are one way of achieving this, and can help support your diet as it can be difficult to ensure you are getting adequate vitamins and minerals from food alone.