Srinagar: If you have healthy levels of vitamin D, you are less likely to get severe disease from the novel coronavirus, said Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday in a communiqué.
“Having adequate levels of vitamin D reduces your risk of dying from Covid-19,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“People with low levels of vitamin D are at increased risk of dying if they contract the novel virus,” he said.
Quoting a study published in Irish Medical Journal, Dr Nisar said countries like Spain and Italy, though sunny have high rates of vitamin D deficiency and have experienced some of the highest Covid-19 infection and death rates in the world.
“These countries do not fortify food or recommend supplementation with vitamin D and people avoid sun,” he said.
“Conversely, countries like Norway, Finland and Sweden despite less sunlight exposure have higher vitamin D levels and have lower Covid-19 infection and deaths,” Dr Nisar said.
“The high levels of vitamin D found in these Nordic countries are due to consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements and possibly less sun avoidance,” he said.
Dr Nisar said vitamin D deficiency is widely prevalent in Kashmir valley because of less exposure to sunlight.
“Deficiency is more prevalent in elderly and in people with underlying medical conditions and they are the ones who are prone to complications and death from Covid-19,” he added.
Dr Nisar said majority of Covid-deaths occur as a result of cytokine storm, a hyperinflammatory condition caused by an overactive immune system which severely damages the lungs and leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome and death.
“Not only does vitamin D enhances our innate immune system, it also prevents our immune system from becoming dangerously overactive,” he said.
Dr Nisar said the best way to ensure that people have adequate levels of vitamin D is to take the vitamin supplements at currently recommended levels.
“The recommended daily vitamin D supplement intake is 400-800 International Units or 10-20 micrograms, but during this Covid crisis a supplement containing 1000-2000 IU daily would be reasonable,” he said.
“Vitamin D can also be obtained from eating foods such as fish, egg-yolk, mushrooms and cheese,” said Dr Nisar.