Vitamin D is very important for our health. But can vitamin D also help in the fight against Corona? We spoke with expert Professor Stefan Pilz about the connection between vitamin D and a Corona infection.
Can vitamin D help in the fight against corona or alleviate a disease? In the meantime, reports about vitamin D as a means in the fight against Corona are piling up. Since mid-January, the RKI has also been recommending vitamin D treatment for covid patients and screening for at-risk groups. In many articles, the “sunshine vitamin” vitamin D is presented as the solution for avoiding a corona infection or a serious course. We, too, have already reported on this. But what is at the praise really there? inFranken.de made the fact check and interviewed a Vitamin D expert.
Expert Stefan mushroom in the interview: Vitamin D and Corona
Stefan Pilz, professor at the Medical University of Graz and expert in the research field of vitamin D, answered our questions.
Mr. Pilz, what is vitamin D actually?
Stefan Pilz: “Vitamin D is the precursor of a hormone, a steroid hormone. When we supply vitamin D, it is converted into a hormone in the body and acts like a steroid hormone in our body, comparable to sex hormones. This means that vitamin D has active sites in practically all organs of the body. The fact that the receptors are in all organs explains the broad action of vitamin D in the body.”
What is the best way for us to absorb vitamin D?
Stefan Pilz: “We can make vitamin D ourselves by exposing the skin to sunlight. That should also be the main source of intake of the vitamin. We get about 80 to 90 percent from the skin and a small amount from food. Natural foods that contain vitamin D are very rare. In fact, the only one to mention is oily fish. Other foods are mushrooms and eggs. However, one does not actually manage to get enough vitamin D through natural food. So vitamin D is not primarily a dietary problem, it’s a lifestyle problem: We’re not in the sun enough. We are outdoors too little. Obesity is also a problem, because vitamin D is then deposited in fatty tissue and is therefore not available.”
Can we assume that we have a vitamin D deficiency due to the lockdown in winter?
Stefan Pilz: “In winter, it can certainly be assumed. There are clear seasonal fluctuations in vitamin D levels. In many countries, including Germany and Austria, the low point is around February. Whether the lockdown in particular has an influence is not yet entirely clear. As far as I know, there are no clear scientific findings on that yet. Especially in connection with weight gain, many factors would suggest that many people have a severe vitamin D deficiency right now (March 2021). Overall, however, it is related to how people behave: For example, do they get out in the fresh air more when they are on short-time work or do they spend more time at home. These and similar factors play a role.
Can corona disease be prevented by vitamin D supplementation? Or influence the course of a disease?
Stefan Pilz: “There is a clear link between vitamin D and respiratory disease. There are studies by Adrian Martineau from 2017 in the British Medical Journal that have shown that the risk of respiratory disease is lower when vitamin D is taken. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) has also confirmed this. However, that was before Corona. We cannot yet conclusively judge whether this also applies to Corona. However, there is much to be said for it, because vitamin D acts in the immune system. Previous studies suggest that people who are vitamin D deficient have an increased risk of severe covid progression.”