VITAMIN D plays an essential role in the body so becoming deficient in the nutrient can cause a number of concerning symptoms, the most widely understood being bone problems. Research also suggests a lack of the vitamin could leave you more exposed to a new threat – coronavirus.
The coronavirus, a new strain of virus that broke out in the Wuhan province of China back in December, has caused worldwide fatalities and paralysed industries in its wake.
Detailed investigations of the coronavirus have revealed that it is a respiratory infection so produces signs similar to the common cold or flu.
Why is this relevant to a vitamin D deficiency?
Several large observational studies have shown a link between a deficiency and respiratory tract infections like colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.
This is because one of vitamin D's primary roles is keeping your immune system strong so you're able to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause illness.
Research shows that it directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting infection.
It is therefore reasonable to infer that having a vitamin D deficiency could heighten your risk of catching the coronavirus.
A similar logic suggests increasing your dosage of vitamin D may offer protection against the deadly virus.
In one study in people with the chronic lung disorder COPD, only those who were severely deficient in vitamin D experienced a significant benefit after taking a high-dose supplement for one year.
Who is at risk of a vitamin D deficiency?
Some people won't get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.
According to the Department of Health, you are at an increased risk if you:
- Aren't often outdoors – for example, if you're frail or housebound
- Are in an institution like a care home
- Usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
If you have dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – you may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight, explains the health body