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Corona disease: Pay attention to vitamin D levels
The vitamin D supply of many people is considered inadequate. In the case of COVID-19 disease, this can serve as an indicator of an increased risk of a severe course. Prof. Dr. Hans-Konrad Biesalski, nutritionist at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, described in a summary publication.
In the past month, researchers from Indonesia reported an increased COVID-19 risk of death from vitamin D deficiency. Prof. Hans-Konrad Biesalski has now identified a vitamin D deficit as a possible indicator of the severity and mortality in a COVID-19 disease. To reach this conclusion, the nutritionist has evaluated 30 studies.
Diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency
"Until now, basic illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and severe overweight were considered risk factors," explains Prof. Biesalski in a message. "But these diseases are often linked to a vitamin D deficiency. This has consequences for the course of Covid 19 disease. "
According to the doctor, this also applies to people over 65 or people who are rarely outdoors. "The most important source of vitamin D is the formation in the skin by sunlight," explains the expert, "and it only works to a limited extent in old age."
The full study recently appeared in the NFS Journal. The publisher of this scientific journal, the Society of Nutrition and Food Science e.V. (SNFS), a non-profit organization based at the University of Hohenheim, supported the study financially.
Effects on the immune system
The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) explains that vitamin D is supplied both through the diet and is also produced by humans themselves through exposure to UVB light (sun exposure).
According to the experts, the supply via the diet with the usual foods is not sufficient to achieve the estimated value for an adequate supply in the absence of endogenous synthesis, which is why the intake of a vitamin D preparation is necessary. With frequent sun exposure, the desired care can be achieved without the food supplements.
As explained in the communication from the University of Hohenheim, vitamin D regulates the body's immune system and the so-called renin-angiotensin system (RAS), which is particularly important for regulating blood pressure. In the event of an infection, the vitamin ensures that these two systems do not get out of hand.
"Since the corona virus affects an important switching point of these control loops, pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory processes are no longer in balance," says Prof. Biesalski. “The system is getting mixed up. Especially if there is a vitamin D deficiency at the same time. "
According to the expert, the balance between pro- and anti-inflammatory processes shifts in favor of the pro-inflammatory processes, which then really take off. "The result is serious changes in the alveoli that lead to a serious complication of Covid 19 disease, the so-called acute respiratory distress syndrome."
Especially important for basic illnesses
If an infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is suspected, the vitamin D status should therefore be checked and a possible deficit remedied quickly, the doctor recommends.
“This is particularly recommended for people with one of the underlying diseases or for older people. Vitamin D levels in people's homes are often devastatingly low. In times of home office, many people spend a long time in closed rooms, which also contributes to poor vitamin D supply. ”
Vitamin D cannot cure the disease
To avoid misunderstandings, however, Prof. Biesalski emphasizes: “Vitamin D is not a drug that can be used to cure Covid 19 diseases. But you can have a positive effect on the course of the disease by enabling the organism to restore the balance between the pro- and anti-inflammatory processes. "
In addition, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) points out that no studies are known to show that - as is often suggested - the intake of vitamin D preparations before infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronaviurs or the triggering protects against the disease COVID-19.
According to Prof. Biesalski, sufficient vitamin D levels can hardly be achieved through food. “Oily fish and sun-dried mushrooms are particularly rich in vitamin D. But that's not enough, and in Germany - unlike many other countries - food is not enriched. "
With a little luck, taking nutritional supplements is not recommended by the nutritionist. “When in doubt, that's not enough to improve a really bad vitamin D status in the short term. As a prophylactic, one should spend a lot of time outdoors, pay attention to the diet - and at the latest if an infection is suspected, ask the family doctor to check the vitamin D level. ”(Ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- University of Hohenheim: Covid-19 disease: Vitamin D supply can be an indicator of mortality risk, (accessed: June 30, 2020), University of Hohenheim
- Hans K. Biesalski: Vitamin D deficiency and co-morbidities in COVID-19 patients - A fatal relationship ?; in: NFS Journal, (published: 07.06.2020), NFS Journal
- German Nutrition Society (DGE): Vitamin D (Calciferole), (accessed: June 30, 2020), German Nutrition Society (DGE)
- Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR): Can the novel coronavirus be transmitted via food and objects ?, (accessed: June 30, 2020), Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)