A new study seems to further confirm the idea that vitamin D could play an important part in the body's response to coronavirus – only this time around, the research appears to indicate the theory is especially applicable to women. Vitamin D, a hormone which is processed in the kidneys and can be sourced naturally from sunlight, is already known for assisting the body in helping to fight off infections, like the flu or a cold.
The new research (published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health) took into account data from over 445,000 people spread across Britain, American and Sweden, and found females taking certain vitamin supplements were less likely to test positive for the virus which causes COVID-19.
It found that among the 372,000 UK-based participants, women who took probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, multivitamins or vitamin D had a 9 to 14% lower risk of being infected with the virus that leads to coronavirus. Similar data emerged from women in the US and Sweden too.
However, experts have stressed that more work still needs to be done on the theory. Many are now calling for a larger trial to assess whether supplements could have a protective effect against COVID-19, as it's still hard to say conclusively whether or not low vitamin D levels were the cause, or an effect, of the disease's intensity.
While the NHS previously said there's currently not enough evidence to support taking supplements of any kind to prevent or treat coronavirus, it did make the decision to offer free vitamin D supplements for those who are especially vulnerable to the virus, or who are on the shielding list.
As for other types of vitamins and COVID-19, a study (carried out by researchers from Imperial College London) involving 6,115 adults, who were asked to self-report their vitamin intake and any respiratory problems, observed 33 cases of respiratory complaints. Researchers noted that higher levels of vitamin A and E were associated with a lower likelihood of reporting any such illnesses, such as chesty coughs, or a long-term condition like asthma or pulmonary disease.
Experts from Queen Mary University of London are also investigating whether having topped up levels of vitamin D could reduce the severity of coronavirus on the body. Professor Adrian Martineau, lead researcher, said of the ongoing work, "There is mounting evidence that vitamin D might reduce the risk of respiratory infections, with some recent studies suggesting that people with lower vitamin D levels may be more susceptible to coronavirus."
However, as previously noted, all this research is still very much in the early stages – and five studies on COVID and vitamin D, which were previously reviewed by the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence back in June, concluded there's a lack of evidence to support taking supplements could reduce the risk, or indeed, severity of the disease.
Luckily, now that we've now transitioned into spring, Vitamin D (found in sunlight) is going to be easier to come by naturally too – another reason it's a good idea to get out for a walk of a lunchtime.
Failing that, taking a daily supplement is also be a good way of ensuring you're on top of your vitamins:
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