Covid-19 Infection And Vitamin D Deficiency
Specialist Internal Medicine,
Medcare Medical Centre Marina & Medical Director for Medcare Medical Centres
Vitamin D cannot prevent COVID-19 infection, but adequate blood levels of vitamin D may reduce the severity of the COVID-19 infection, is what the recent studies are revealing. Unfortunately, a large proportion of the population has a vitamin D deficiency. Around 90% of the vitamin D is synthesized in our skin when exposed to the Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from sunlight. Food items rich in vitamin D are limited and these include cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks and sardines. This needs to be consumed every day to get enough vitamin D.
It is recommended to get sun exposure for about 20-30 minutes, to get enough vitamin D, three to four times per week, during midday. This is because the UVB rays are at its peak during this time and the skin can produce the maximum amount of vitamin D in a short period. Here are a few tips:
- One should expose only a third of your skin directly under the sunlight.
- Applying sunscreen can prevent or reduce the ability of the skin to produce vitamin D
- Dark skinned people need more time in sunlight to produce same quantity of vitamin D compared to light skinned people. This is because dark skin contains more melanin pigments which act as a natural sunscreen.
- People who live further away from the equator need to spend more time under the sun since the UVB rays get absorbed by the ozone layer in these areas
- Vitamin D deficiency can cause low immunity, easy fatigability, muscle pain and weakness, depression, delayed wound healing, hair loss, etc.
- Too much of sun exposure can cause sun burns, cataract, retinal damage, accelerated skin aging, freckles, moles, heat stroke and skin cancer. If you intend to spend longer time under the sun, it is best to apply sunscreen after the initial 30 minutes.
It is highly recommended to consult your General Physician or dermatologist regarding vitamin D supplements or the kind of sunscreen to use.
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