Do high Vitamin D levels reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, and administration of the vitamin in the infected patients considerably reduce mortality? Yes, says a study done by the doctors of Nizams Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) on the COVID-affected patients of Gandhi Hospital, Secunderabad. The report published in ‘www.nature.com’ says that Vitamin D is a potential immuno-modulator and its adjunctive role in the treatment of COVID-19 is established through the study.
Maheshwar Lakkireddy, a orthopaedician at NIMS and one of the authors of the study says that improvement of Serum Vitamin D level to 80 to 100 Nanograms per MilliLitre (ng/ml) has significantly reduced the inflammatory markers of COVID 19 (N/L ratio, CRP, LDH, IL6, Ferritin) without any side effects. The authors who defined this administration of Vitamin D study as ‘Pulse D Therapy’ reveal that the study was done on 130 patients. The patients were randomised into Vitamin D (VD) and Non-Vitamin D (NVD) groups. The VD group received Pulse D therapy (targeted daily supplementation of 60,000 IUs of vitamin D for 8 or 10 days depending upon their BMI) in addition to the standard treatment. The NVD group received standard treatment alone.
When the differences in the variables between the two groups were analysed for statistical significance it was found that Vitamin D level had increased from 16 ng/ml to 89 ng/ml in VD group and a highly significant reduction of all the measured inflammatory markers was noted. However, reduction of markers in NVD group was insignificant. Sub-groups within the selected VD and NVD patients, who have not received the drugs like Remdesivir, Favipiravir, Ivermectin or Dexamethasone, were also formed to study the impact of Vitamin D on them. Similar results of the impact of Vitamin D was noticed in these sub-groups as well.
Dr. Maheshwar reveals that Vitamin D is known to enhance the production of various anti-microbial peptides by the immune cells and it also modulates the immune system apart from reducing the dysregulated production of self-damaging pro-inflammatory cytokines. The dynamic role of Vitamin D can be of immense value in the context of immune dysfunction observed in COVID-19 patients with cytokine storm and acute respiratory distress syndrome, he says.
Lacking Vitamin D levels
Interestingly, 90% of Indians suffer from lack of sufficient Vitamin D in their bodies with the average presence being 13 to 15 ng/ml. Moreover, it is not sufficiently present in majority foods and the only source is sunlight between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and that too with constraints in absorption like pollution and age of the people.
Dr. Maheshwar also observed that less than 5% of people contracted the COVID-19 if the Vitamin D level was more than 55 ng/ml in them. The mortality of COVID patients is almost zero if Vitamin D level was 60 ng/ml and it is very high if the levels are less than 30 ng/ml. The other doctors who were part of this study included Srikanth Goud Gadiga, R.D. Malathi, Madhu Latha Karra, S.S.V. Prasad Murthy Raju, Ragini, Sangeetha Chinapaka, K.S.S. Sai Baba and Manohar Kandakatla.