What vitamin do you need to boost your immunity?
Vitamin C is likely the first thing that popped into your head as it is a well-known home remedy for colds and is marketed heavily as the key nutrient in supplements promising to boost immunity.
Sadly, we can’t just eat an orange or pop a vitamin C pill and expect a quick improvement in our immunity. It depends on a whole range of vitamins, and one of them is vitamin D.
Especially while we are living with COVID-19, having sufficient vitamin D to support our immune system is more important than ever. Recent studies have shown that a deficiency of vitamin D is tied to increased severity and susceptibility to COVID-19.
A statistical analysis, done by researchers in Brazil, on more than 8000 adult and elderly patients revealed a positive association between vitamin D deficiency and severe COVID-19, where individuals with severe cases were 65% more likely to be vitamin D deficient compared with those who had mild cases.
One reason for this could be because patients with serious cases of COVID-19 were shown to release large numbers of cytokines, proteins that are part of the immune system that help to protect against infections. This excessive release of cytokines leads to severe tissue damage which contributes to the progression and severity of COVID-19.
Vitamin D is known to regulate the release of cytokines, hence researchers suggest that its deficiency will increase the risk of severe COVID-19 complications.
What's more, another study showed that low levels of vitamin D and zinc had been observed in patients with COVID-19 regardless of age, sex and prior conditions. This suggested that vitamin D, along with zinc, deficiency could be linked to increased susceptibility to COVID-19.
In summary, vitamin D alone cannot protect against COVID-19 but a deficiency of vitamin D may increase the severity and susceptibility to overall infection by harming immune function.
So how do we ensure we get sufficient vitamin D?
There are 2 ways: diet and sunlight exposure.
Consider including fatty fish, egg yolks, yoghurt, cereals, milk or juices fortified with vitamin D in your daily diet. A healthy adult is recommended to take 2.5mcg of vitamin D per day.
Go outdoors for a walk twice a week for at least 5-30 minutes, ideally between 10 am - 3 pm, to get adequate amounts of vitamin D.
A side note for elderlies, it is recommended to obtain vitamin D through food/supplementation instead of sunlight as ageing affects the skin’s ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D efficiently. Also, increased sunlight exposure also leads to skin ageing and skin degradation.
If you would like to have a medical check-up for vitamin D deficiency, Intemedical’s enhanced and premium health screening packages include tests for vitamin D levels. More information can be found here.
Make an appointment with Intemedical via the following channels:
WhatsApp: 8879 9404
Landline: Potong Pasir - 6242 6384 Kovan - 6243 3036
(Available during clinic opening hours, 8 am to 12 am)