The simplest of supplements is proving extraordinarily effective against catching coronavirus, a major new study shows. The remedy is as simple as Vitamin D available through exposure to sunshine, or by way of oral supplements.
Vitamin D has long been known to fight infections, but its strength against coronavirus now stands established through an extensive study on as many as 1,90,000 patients in the US. This study by a Boston team showed that adequate levels of Vitamin D reduced the risk of coronavirus by as much as 54 per cent. Other ongoing investigations in Britain and in Iran point similarly.
The study in Boston published in the peer-reviewed journal 'Public Library of Science One' shows that that the risk of getting coronavirus declines steadily as Vitamin D levels increase. The study found that those with a healthy level of the vitamin, and others fortified by it were significantly more successful than others in fighting off the infection, or at least the severity of it.
“People have been looking for the magic drug or waiting for the vaccine and not looking for something this simple,” Dr Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement.
The study was based on blood samples from more than 1,90,000 Americans from around the country. It found that those with deficient levels of vitamin D had 54 per cent higher Covid positivity.
Indians in UK
The results are “fascinating” and “very, very promising”, Prof. Parag Singhal, a consultant endocrinologist with the University of South Wales, told CNN News18.
A study of Indian Covid patients in the UK is leading towards similar conclusions, said Prof. Singhal. Indians and members of other minority groups were picked up for a study in Britain after a significantly higher infection and death rate among them through the first phase of the virus in Britain that killed well above 40,000 people.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) undertook a Vitamin D supplementation programme in April and May when cases were peaking. That is being followed up with a major qualitative study. “The results are yet to come out, but we have seen already that those patients given big doses of Vitamin D have been doing very well,” says Prof. Singhal, who has been researching Vitamin D for the last 15 years. “The initial results look very promising.” The results from this study are due to be published soon.
The pointers seen already send out a strong signal for a need for more Vitamin D protection in India, particularly now just ahead of winter.
India gets plenty of sunshine, most of it for much of the year anyway, but large numbers of Indians still suffer from chronic Vitamin D deficiencies, said Prof. Singhal. “Because of pollution the sun is not strong, and with our dark skin we need a lot more sunshine than usual to produce Vitamin D.”
In the face of an expected winter wave of the virus, the Indian government, he said, “should roll out a Vitamin D supplementation programme to prepare people for the winter wave of coronavirus.”