Multiple research studies are suggesting that vitamin D may help protect people from coronavirus infections, according to the Straits Times of Singapore.
Known as the “sunshine vitamin”, vitamin D is mainly made in the skin on exposure to the sun. It can also be obtained from sources such as eggs, liver and oily fish.
Prolonged lockdowns reduce exposure to the sun which could increase vulnerability to viruses like Covid-19 and have other negative health effects.
British medical journal The Lancet cited studies which suggest that vitamin D may be able to protect against acute respiratory infections such as Covid-19.
The journal suggested increasing efforts to ensure the public have sufficient vitamin D as “such efforts might reduce the impact of Covid-19 in populations where vitamin D deficiency is prevalent”.
A Singapore study analysed Covid-19 patients aged 50 and above at Singapore General Hospital.
Their results, published in the science journal Nutrition last week, found that treating patients with a combination of vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin B12 was found to reduce the number who went on to require oxygen support or admission to intensive care.
Dr Ben Ng, an endocrinologist from Arden Endocrinology Specialist Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, said the pandemic will mean many people have decreased levels of vitamin D, given the reduction in outdoor activities.
“I would encourage all patients who may be at risk of vitamin D deficiency to consider taking a replacement,” he said, adding that a daily dose of up to 1,000 units is extremely safe.
Singapore Institute of Technology assistant professor Verena Tan said there is evidence that vitamin D is critical for good immune function and a deficiency may compromise immune response and increase risk of infection and disease.
While she stopped short of suggesting people take vitamin D supplements without a doctor’s recommendation, she did note that healthy vitamin D levels can enhance immunity.
While cautious, doctors seem to agree that treating vitamin D deficiency can be beneficial to one’s overall health, and so may help prevent or treat Covid-19.