Written by Julia Ebbens
In recent months we have become increasingly aware of Vitamin D’s wide ranging effects on our health. This vitamin/ hormone has traditionally been linked to bone health, with awareness of its core role in immune health gradually emerging.
Only recently however, has Vitamin D received the attention it deserves for its role in inflammation modulation. Whilst it is too early to concretely confirm a role for Vitamin D as a preventative in COVID treatment strategies, its ability to mitigate the harmful ‘cytokine storms’ as associated with worsened COVID severity, suggests it's time to take a closer look.
Whilst mechanistically, Vitamin D is positively associated with both innate and adaptive immune responses, and studies such as those in Andalusia correlated low Vitamin D levels with COVID severity, the unique capacity for cytokine regulation is of particular interest.
Inflammation plays a role in acute infection resolution, however the dramatic pro-inflammatory deluge witnessed in SARS type infections correlates directly to mortality risk. Vitamin D may mitigate this response, by optimising innate immune activity, with a subsequent reduction in viral load, whilst simultaneously halting the overactivation of the adaptive immune system, to prevent the proinflammatory cytokine surge.
We don’t have all the answers yet, but the token gesture of the NHS offering free (albeit low dose) Vitamin D supplementation to the clinically ‘very vulnerable’ is a step in the right direction in acknowledging the pivotal role Vitamin D has in governing both our immune and inflammatory response to insult and injury.