Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin, which is actually a hormone that has many positive health benefits, such as the enhancement of immune cells and controls around 900 genes, or 1/24 of your entire genome.
Research is clearly demonstrating the importance of Vitamin D on our health; and unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency affects almost 50% of the world’s population.
Some of the elements contributing towards this include lifestyle factors, such as reduced outdoor activities, old age, obesity, environmental factors, such as living in the northern hemisphere, air pollution, poor dietary choices and genetic factors.
Two of these (reduced outdoor activities / housebound and old age) immediately jump off the page in relation to COVID‐19.
Both of these in many instances go hand in hand. And we also need to remember that COVID‐19 made its appearance during the winter months and vitamin D levels will be diminished.
Below are just a few studies highlighting the importance of vitamin D in relation to autoimmune disease, influenza A in schoolchildren and bovine viral diarrhoea virus.
1. Acute phase response elicited by experimental bovine diarrhea virus (BVDV) infection is associated with decreased vitamin D and E status of vitamin-replete preruminant calves.
“The reduced vitamin D serum levels in calves had been shown to induce the infection of bovine coronavirus. Therefore, vitamin D could work as another therapeutic option for the treatment of this novel virus”
2. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.
“Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risks of deadly cancers, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. Maintaining blood concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D above 80 nmol/L (approximately 30 ng/mL) not only is important for maximizing intestinal calcium absorption but also may be important for providing the extrarenal 1alpha-hydroxylase that is present in most tissues to produce 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3”
3. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren.
“This study suggests that vitamin D (3) supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren”
Your genes encode for a variety of predispositions and traits, such as your ability to process and absorb vitamin D.
One such gene is named Cytochrome P450 2R1 (CYP2R1), which encodes for an enzyme that is located in your liver, and converts pre vitamin D3 into 25-hydroxyvitamin D. From there it continues its journey to the kidneys where it will again be converted into the main circulatory form known as 1, 25- dihydroxyvitamin D3.
Now depending on which variant of CYP2R1 you are lucky enough to have will convert vitamin D effectively, this will affect your ability to feel the health benefits which vitamin D will offer.
How well do you process and utilise vitamin D?