The Importance of Vitamin D levels in lockdown and during the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic and corresponding lockdown has seen many of us alter our lifestyles as we adapt to new ways of living. As part of this, a natural response has been to turn to diet and exercise in a bid to remain healthy and have some control over our physical and mental wellbeing. With coronavirus being shown to affect obese people disproportionately, and those with underlying health conditions much more likely to suffer extreme symptoms of the virus, it’s becoming clear that general health levels can influence a person’s ability to overcome Covid-19. So what does vitamin D have to do with it?
How vitamin D plays a role in Covid-19
Vitamin D is well known for helping to increase calcium transport from food, ensuring bones stay strong and helping to prevent osteoporosis. Produced in the skin from UVB sunlight exposure, vitamin D deficiency is often assumed to be worse in northern latitude countries that have low sunlight levels – such as Norway and Finland. However, research shows that typically sunny countries such as Spain and Northern Italy have higher rates of vitamin D deficiency, with supplementation and fortification of foods far less common in sunny countries. Nordic countries have had a lower rate of Covid-19 infection and death than sunny Spain and Italy, corresponding with their vitamin D levels. In addition, a 2017 study of individual patient data found that vitamin D supplementation protected against acute respiratory tract infections. Researchers are now urging the use of vitamin D supplements during lockdown to help prevent further deaths.
As well as being taken in supplement form, vitamin D can be found in food. A diet featuring seafood has a number of benefits, including boosting vitamin D; salmon, herring and sardines all have high levels, while if you can stomach cod liver oil that will not only provide vitamin D but vitamin A too. Canned tuna, egg yolks, mushrooms and fortified bread, milk and cereal all help to improve your levels of Vitamin D.
A structured meal plan should include foods naturally rich in vitamin D to help optimise your health. The AI Weight Loss Diet features plenty of fish and adapts its menus to suit your taste, maintaining high levels of nutrients and vitamins, which is crucial during the pandemic and lockdown.
Using food to protect against illness
While no food or diet is a surefire way to prevent illness, healthy diets support immune systems and can reduce the likelihood of developing health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity – all of which can increase the severity of Covid-19. Modern life and the western diet can lead to inflammation, which can negatively impact our immune systems.
Inflammation-reducing foods include leafy greens, berries, unsalted nuts and fatty fish. Omega-3 acids are well known for being anti-inflammatory, which is another reason to enjoy a diet high in fatty fish. Meanwhile, vitamin C has a major role in the growth and function of immune cells and antibody production, and can profoundly influence an individual’s response to infections. A diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can help to ensure you maintain high levels of vitamin C to help your immune system work harder during the Covid-19 crisis.
The link between obesity and Covid-19
There are many underlying health conditions that seem to worsen the effect of coronavirus, and obesity is one of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that people with heart disease and diabetes are at higher risk of complications from the virus. Obesity has been shown to increase vulnerability to infection, and in other respiratory infections can prolong the duration of virus shedding by 42%. Meanwhile, people with obesity may have more fat tissues with ACE-2 receptors, which Covid-19 has been shown to bind to.
A UK study of nearly 17,000 hospital patients found that those who were obese with a BMI of more than 30 had a 33% greater risk of dying from Covid-19 than those who were not obese. This suggests that a healthy weight may well help to protect against the devastating impacts of the virus.
Find the best diet for you during lockdown
The coronavirus lockdown has presented mental and physical health challenges for people all over the world. In doing so, it has reignited conversations around health and wellbeing and what individuals can be doing to boost their immune system and protect themselves from disease. For many, maintaining a healthy weight can help with this.
If you’re considering a change of diet or want to lose weight to improve your health, consider a scientific approach. The AI Weight Loss Diet uses artificial intelligence to activate fat loss and balance nutrition levels, with tailor-made meal plans designed to be appetising and effective. Read Zak’s story to find out how the AI Weight Loss Diet helped him to lose more than a stone in one month and sign up to start losing weight and improving your health.