The Sun, the biggest producer of vitamin D, a source that we have lots of in Portugal and especially the Algarve, might now be exactly the help we need.
“This study show direct evidence that having enough vitamin D can reduce complications [of the disease]”, explains the author, Michael F. Holick, professor of Medicine, Physiology and Biophysics and Molecular Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, USA.
The research is based on inpatients that had values higher than 30 mg / ml of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their body and who were found to have had less serious consequences of the disease, such as unconsciousness, hypoxia (low oxygen concentration) and even death.
The study argues that a sufficient amount of vitamin D can reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus by 54 percent, and also helps to combat the more serious effects of other viruses that cause diseases of the respiratory tract, including the flu.
The benefits of vitamin D
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
How can we get vitamin D?
Vitamin D can be obtained through the skin, through sun exposure. On average, exposure to ultraviolet rays of intensity four to five, for a period of 15 minutes or more, allows the activation of pro-vitamin present in the skin. Fairer skins may have more facility to synthesis vitamin D.
Vitamin D can be obtained also through eating certain foods. There are some foods that are rich in vitamin D such as eggs, cheese, fatty fish, milk and milk derivates, mushrooms, but also liver and cod liver.
Alternatively, supplements can be used to boost vitamin C levels. “Because vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is so common in children and adults in the United States and around the world, especially in the winter months, it is prudent for everyone to take a vitamin D supplement to reduce the risk of infection and complications by Covid-19”, the study recommends.
How much vitamin D is needed?
According to the NHS, babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
Children from the age of 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
From about late March/early April to the end of September, the majority of people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.
A microgram is 1,000 times smaller than a milligram (mg). The word microgram is sometimes written with the Greek symbol μ followed by the letter g (μg).
Sometimes the amount of vitamin D is expressed as International Units (IU). 1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU. So 10 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to 400 IU.