Vitamin D is an essential mineral that plays many roles in different systems of the body. Some studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to coronavirus (COVID-19).
At least 80 percent of COVID-19 patients are also vitamin D-deficient. According to studies, higher levels of vitamin D can help reduce the rate of positive tests, hospitalizations and mortality related to coronavirus.
Vitamin D levels can affect the development and severity of many diseases. Some health experts believe that optimizing vitamin D levels can help reduce the incidence of infection and death in the general public.
In a 2020 study, researchers examined the serum 25OHD levels of hospitalized patients with coronavirus to find out if it is linked to the severity of the disease. Results revealed that a shocking 82.2 percent of patients with coronavirus are vitamin D deficient, with levels lower than 20 ng/mL. (Related: Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of coronavirus infection.)
The researchers also discovered that more patients with a vitamin D deficiency have heart disease, high blood pressure, high iron levels and longer hospital stays. A different study have also shown similar results for people who tested positive for coronavirus.
In a study published last August in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers have found that the metabolites of vitamin D can inhibit the replication and expansion of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Why is vitamin D important?
Vitamin D regulates the expression of hundreds of genes. The vitamin also has an important role in biological functions that affect all your bodily systems. Vitamin D deficiency can cause symptoms that are linked to many health problems. (Related: Vitamin D deficiency linked to host of woes.)
You need vitamin D because it helps maintain adequate levels of calcium and phosphate that you need for normal bone mineralization. It is called the sunshine vitamin because the skin makes vitamin D when you are exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun.
Vitamin D also helps minimize inflammation, which is essential for the modulation of cell growth and immune function. Additionally, vitamin D affects genes that help regulate cell differentiation and apoptosis or programmed cell death.
Signs of vitamin D deficiency
Maintaining the right levels of vitamin D can help lower your risk of viral and bacterial illness during cold and flu season. If you’re immunocompromised, you also need vitamin D to boost your natural defenses against other infections. You can take a blood test to determine your vitamin D levels if you’re worried about possible deficiency.
Watch out for these signs of vitamin D deficiency:
Poor brain health
Vitamin D is important for your brain health. Symptoms of deficiency may include dementia due to an increase of soluble and insoluble beta-amyloid, a factor in Alzheimer’s disease. Data also suggests a link with depression, which may be associated with the function of vitamin D buffering higher levels of calcium in the brain.
According to a study involving patients with fibromyalgia, a vitamin D deficiency is more common in people with anxiety and depression.
Poor sleep quality
While the mechanism linking vitamin D and poor sleep quality still hasn’t been identified, some studies suggest that individuals with low levels of vitamin D have poor quality sleep and a higher risk of developing sleep disorders
Reduced cognitive function
Research has also shown that vitamin D deficiency increases your risk of dementia twofold. A deficiency also increases your risk of impaired cognitive function.
Excessive sweating, particularly on your head, or a change in your pattern of sweating, can also indicate a vitamin D deficiency.
Data from clinical studies suggests that vitamin D3 improves circulation and high blood pressure.
In one study, scientists reported that vitamin D3 offers benefits for the endothelial cells that line the cardiovascular system. Results revealed that it helped balance concentrations of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite, which then improved endothelial function.
Almost 50 percent of all adults suffer from muscle pain and scientists think most of those adults are deficient in vitamin D.
According to research, nerves have vitamin D receptors that affect the perception of pain. Results from an animal study even showed that a vitamin D-deficient diet can result in deep muscle hypersensitivity not caused by low levels of calcium.
Fatigue is a common symptom of different health conditions, like sleep deprivation. Scientists have also discovered that supplementing cancer patients experiencing fatigue with vitamin D offers some benefits and improves their symptoms.
Poor muscle performance
Vitamin D deficiency is also common in athletes, especially since the vitamin is essential for proper muscle development, strength and performance.
Elderly patients taking a vitamin D supplement have shown improved muscle performance. Vitamin D supplementation or sun exposure has also been found to reduce symptoms of stress fractures, musculoskeletal pain and frequent illness.
In one paper from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, scientists reported that increasing your vitamin D intake can help reduce injury rates and improve sports performance.
Delayed wound healing
In America, at least two percent of the population is affected by chronic wounds.
Chronic wounds account for an estimated 5.5 percent of the cost of health care in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Getting enough vitamin helps promote wound healing and the creation of cathelicidin, a peptide that fights wound infections.
According to multiple epidemiological studies, vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk and severity of infection, especially if you have respiratory tract infections.
Data also suggests that vitamin D deficiency increases your risk for severe disease and mortality, particularly in patients who are very ill.
Food sources of vitamin D
Aside from spending time outdoors to get your regular does of the sunshine vitamin, you should also incorporate these superfoods into your regular diet to boost your vitamin D intake:
- Almond mild (unsweetened)
- Dairy milk
- Organic soy milk
- Plain yogurt (unsweetened)
- Rainbow trout, freshwater
Follow a balanced diet and spend time outdoors to boost your vitamin D intake and improve your overall well-being.
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