Q: Can vitamin D help protect against Covid-19. Also, can homoeopathy help cure vitamin D deficiency?

A: From the early days of the pandemic, vitamin D has been in the spotlight. Quite a few reports have been doing the rounds about how those with sufficient levels of vitamin D were better protected from the infection than others. In the UAE, a study of 522 Covid-19 patients was recently published and found a strong relation between vitamin D deficiency and severe Covid-19 related issues.

Vitamin D contributes to a well-functioning immune system in several ways, including defending the body from viruses and pathogens and helping ward off respiratory infections.

The best source of vitamin D is sunlight on the skin for about 15 minutes every day. During periods of sunlight, the vitamin is stored in the fatty skin layer and released when daylight is gone. However, it is essential to note that the necessary exposure time varies with age, skin type, clothing, diet, and existing vitamin D levels.

Obtaining the vitamin purely from food sources is challenging as it is largely absent from the food supply. While it does occur naturally in a limited number of foods, it isn’t easy to gain the required levels from diet alone. Foods naturally high in vitamin D include mackerel, tuna, beef, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms. Additionally, it is often added to dairy products and breakfast cereals in small amounts, and those are labelled as "fortified with vitamin D."

One of the first signs of deficiency is a sweaty head. Lack of vitamin D is also known to compromise bone health and can cause rickets or defective bone growth in children; osteopenia, low density of bones; and osteoporosis, porous bones in adults.

The deficiency can also cause back pain, joint pain, muscle weakness, and fractures due to brittle bones. In addition, the shortage can cause calcium concentrations to build up in the arteries, creating issues such as high blood pressure and increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Low levels of the sunshine vitamin can put one at a higher risk for autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and skin conditions such as psoriasis. The vitamin plays a crucial role in maintaining cell growth, and a deficiency can lead to developing colorectal and breast cancers. It even affects the ability to use insulin, putting one at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A shortage of the vitamin can also cause food cravings, unexplained lethargy, sleep disturbances and has been found in patients with depression.

However, sometimes you might eat a healthy diet and get the required sun exposure but still suffer from a deficiency. This happens because the body is unable to synthesise or metabolise the vitamin. This is where homoeopathy comes in. In this form of alternative medicine, the remedy selection is based upon individual symptoms by using a holistic approach. The remedies are made from natural sources and are considered safer when taken under the supervision of a qualified homoeopathic doctor.

Homoeopathy works by kick-starting the body’s natural reaction, which encourages it to heal itself of the disease and metabolise vitamin D. For instance, weak and brittle bones prone to fractures due to a lack of vitamin D can be effectively strengthened with homoeopathy medications along with adequate doses of vitamin D. Moreover, it can correct the imbalance in metabolism and boost immunity levels.

For vitamin D supplements, the recommended daily dose is 400 IU for infants and 600 to 800 IU for older kids and adults. But it is important to note that these supplements should only be consumed only on a doctor’s recommendation. While consuming vitamin D is relatively safe, when consumed in a higher quantity on a long-term basis, it can lead to side effects such as constipation, nausea or kidney stones. Therefore, one must always take doses as advised by a doctor.

Dr Riyaz Badami is a homeopathic practitioner and medical director at Good Living Medical Centre. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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