As scientists continue working around the clock to find a vaccine for COVID-19, a new study has found something much more simple could help ward off the disease – sunlight.
People with low levels of vitamin D in their system are more than half as likely to catch coronavirus than those with a high count, a doctor from Boston University has claimed.
Dr Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the university’s school of medicine, said after studying the blood samples of 190,000 Americans he found those with deficient vitamin D levels had a 54 per cent higher chance of displaying the virus.
“People have been looking for the magic drug or waiting for the vaccine and not looking for something this simple,” he said.
Another study, of 11,000 participants, published in the British Medical Journal found vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of acute respiratory tract infection.
However, according to Australia’s National Prescribing Service (NPS) there is no clinical evidence to suggest increasing your vitamin D intake would make you less likely to catch the coronavirus.
It also states that although some international studies have found people with low vitamin D levels have died after catching the disease, those deaths could be more attributable to age and general health.
“The best ways to avoid infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus are to practise good hand hygiene and physical distancing and to keep following restrictions and recommendations from the federal and state or territory departments of health,” the NPS says on its website.
Data from the Australian Department of Health showed about 23 per cent of Australians had vitamin D levels below the optimal amount in 2012.
Dr Holick is the chief science consultant for Solar-D Derma-Tech, a Sydney-based company that develops SPF technology using vitamin D.
Its founder Matthew Collett said the results of Dr Holick’s study came as “no surprise” to him as many recent studies had identified the impact of vitamin D deficiency on respiratory illnesses such as the flu.
Many people are vitamin D deficient because there are only small amounts in food.
People get 90 per cent of their vitamin D through sun exposure but many people can be deprived, especially during winter months.
Dr Holick said the vitamin, which is easy to find in pharmacies, could significantly boost your immune system.
“It’s considered to be, by many, the nutrient of the decade,” he said.
Originally published as Surprisingly easy way to reduce virus risk