Coronavirus – Disease, Medical Sciences Involved & Preventive Measures

Vitamin D and its health benefits


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vitamin D

Mains level : NA

There have been considerable discussions in scientific circles on the importance of vitamin D in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q.Regular intake of fresh fruits and vegetables is recommended in the diet since they are a good source of antioxidants. How do antioxidants help a person maintain health and promote longevity?

(a) They activate the enzymes necessary for vitamin synthesis in the body and help prevent vitamin deficiency.

(b) They prevent excessive oxidation of carbohydrates, fats and proteins in the body and help avoid unnecessary wastage of energy.

(c) They neutralize the free radicals produced in the body during metabolism.

(d) They activate certain genes in the cells of the body and help delay the ageing process.

Vitamin D and its prevalence

  • It is produced when sunlight (or artificial light, particularly in the ultraviolet region of 190-400 nm wavelength) falls on the skin.
  • Light triggers a chemical reaction to a cholesterol-based molecule and converts it into calcidiol in the liver and into calcitriol in the kidney.
  • It is these two molecules that are physiologically active.
  • Since sunlight is important for the generation of vitamin D, tropical countries have an advantage over the northern countries.
  • India, being a tropical country, one would expect naturally derived vitamin D levels to be good.

Why Vitamin D is important?

  • Vitamin D deficiency can affect COVID-19 high-risk patients, particularly those who are diabetic, have heart conditions, pneumonia, obesity and those who smoke.
  • It is also associated with infections in the respiratory tract and lung injury.
  • Besides, vitamin D is known to help in having the right amount of calcium in the bones, catalyse the process of protecting cell membranes from damage, preventing the inflammation of tissues.
  • Moreover, it helps stop tissues from forming fibres and weakening bones from becoming brittle, leading to osteoporosis.

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