Vitamin D supplements help protect elderly against Covid, study claims
New research shows that taking regular vitamin D supplements can boost immune response to the virus and lower inflammation in the elderly.
The study found that immune responses and inflammation improve in older adults who take supplements and lack of vitamin D contributes to the loss of immunity observed with age.
Supplementation of vitamin D could improve the general health of the elderly by boosting immunity to specific diseases and potentially increasing the efficacy of vaccines, data suggested.
Findings from the study may explain in part why vitamin D insufficiency is associated with severe cases of Covid-19.
Dr Emma Chambers from the Centre for Immunobiology said: “What is fascinating about this study is that vitamin D, which is a cheap, safe and readily available vitamin, has the capability to improve immunity in older adults.”
“In addition, vitamin D insufficiency has been linked with worse clinical outcomes in the current COVID-19 pandemic, and these findings may explain in part why vitamin D insufficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to severe Covid-19 disease.”
The Scottish government released guidance on vitamin D in December which said it is important that people maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D.
The government has encouraged everyone, including children, to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D, particularly during the winter months.
Research also showed that elderly individuals who are vitamin D deficient can significantly improve their immunity to the virus that causes shingles by taking supplements, a study has shown.
In the elderly, immune responses to varicella-zoster virus which causes shingles, are reduced, inflammation is increased, and those with higher levels of inflammation had lower levels of vitamin D, the study showed.
This led scientists to investigate whether taking vitamin D supplements could have an effect on susceptibility to the virus.
Vitamin D supplementation significantly increased immune response to the virus and lowered inflammation, an analysis of immune responses in the skin of elderly volunteers has shown.
The study was a collaboration between the Centre for Immunobiology at the Blizard Institute, the Roslin Institute, University College London and Royal Free Hospital.
It was funded by the Medical Research Council. The findings are published in the journal Immunotherapy Advances.