KARACHI: Amid a high number of coronavirus cases in the country and slow pace of Covid-19 vaccination, health experts and medical science professionals suggest people use Vitamin D, calling it highly beneficial in the prevention and treatment of the disease.
They found that people with Vitamin D deficiency were more likely to contract Covid-19 as the ability of the virus to attach with human cells increased manifold among them. The replacement of this “master vitamin” did not only strengthen the immune system, it also prevented humans from scores of other diseases, they added.
“Around 80-90 per cent people in Pakistan, especially women, are significantly Vitamin D deficient,” said University of Health Sciences, Lahore, Vice Chancellor Prof Javed Akram.
The UHS has recently established a “Vitamin D Academy” in collaboration with a local pharmaceutical company, Pharmevo, to train physicians and healthcare providers about the importance of the vitamin and spread awareness about its role in the prevention and treatment of diseases.
“Due to severe deficiency of this important vitamin, their immune system remains weak and they face various diseases, both infectious and non-infectious ones. As the majority of Pakistani population is deficient in this important vitamin, every adult person is recommended to take a daily dose of Vitamin D for at least two to three months and afterwards they can get their Vitamin D levels checked.” Prof Akram, who is also the president of the Pakistan Society of Internal Medicine, said that it was a wrong perception that people could meet their requirement by taking one or two capsules of Vitamin D.
His institution, he said, was conducting five separate researches on the importance and role of Vitamin D and their results would be shared publicly.
Experts from other institutions also find it effective and see its daily use as highly beneficial.
“Despite the fact that Pakistan is among top countries in the world in terms of exposure to sunlight, a majority of our population suffer from moderate-to-severe Vitamin-D deficiency due to lack of exposure to the sun on a daily basis,” said Dr Shobha Luxmi, assistant professor and head of the department of infectious diseases at the National Institute of Solid Organ & Tissue Transplant, Dow University of Health Science.
“Prolonged indoor stays or in places away from sunlight, the use of shades on vehicle windshields, consuming junk food low in nutrients, menopause in women, kidney and liver diseases, epilepsy, drug abuse, sunscreen creams, dark skin complexion and obesity, all contribute to this deficiency.”
Exposure to sunlight each day, she said, helped the human body to manufacture Vitamin D, but most people avoid it due to several reasons including fear of premature ageing. “To prevent Vitamin-D deficiency, one should spend 15 to 20 minutes daily in sunlight with 40 per cent of the skin surface exposed,” she added. Prof Dr Tahir Hussain of the Baqai Medical University insisted that he and many of his colleagues were advising healthcare facilities to test for Vitamin D deficiency in Covid-19 patients and treat aggressively as this could be helpful in the treatment.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2021