A recent study from Europe indicates that vitamin D can help in reducing infection by corona viruses.The study also found that vitamins A and K may help the body respond effectively to these pathogens.
The research indicates that these nutritional compounds can potentially bind to the viral spike protein, which may reduce the virus’s ability to attach to cells in order to replicate.In contrast, cholesterol may increase infectivity, which could explain why having high cholesterol is considered a risk factor a severe immune reaction. The study was conducted at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and was published in the journal of the German Chemical Society “Angewandte Chemie.[i]”
Previously, University of Bristol researchers had shown that linoleic acid (a healthy dietary fat) can bind to a specific site on the viral spike protein, which may lock the spike into a “closed”, or less contagious state. Corona viruses are named for their spike proteins, structures that allow these pathogens to couple with cells and accordingly to hijack the cellular mechanisms to replicate. Reduced viral replication will not necessarily kill viruses but it would likely make an individual’s illness less severe.
The University of Bristol team analyzed the effects of vitamins D and A on the spike protein using computational simulations to evaluate their capacity to inhibit viral adhesion to cells. The research discovered various existing drugs and other compounds that may also impart this protective activity.
Dr Deborah Shoemark, Senior Research Associate in the Bristol School of Biochemistry who modelled the spike, stated, “Our findings help explain how some vitamins may play a more direct role in combating Covid-19 than their conventional support of the human immune system.
Both vitamins D and A play many roles in human immune activity. Both of these fat-soluble vitamins are critical for maintaining mucus membrane health which forms a barrier that can prevent or minimize the ability of pathogens to enter circulation in our bodies. Vitamin D in its active form (25 hydroxy vitamin D) is used by the immune system to calm over aggressive activity as occurs during a “cytokine storm”, or extreme immune reaction. Vitamin A plays many roles in supporting white blood cell activity. White blood cells are in charge of destroying unwanted viruses and bacteria.
This study may have shinned a light on why being overweight is a risk factor for bad outcomes. Vitamin D is fat soluble and tends to accumulate in fatty tissue. This can lower the amount of vitamin D available in circulation in obese individuals, thereby reducing the amount of circulating vitamin D able to fight the challenge.
Supplementing the diet with vitamins D and A has always been a great way to support healthy and balanced immune activity. It may be that the case for taking these vitamins has just gotten stronger.
[i]Shoemark et al. Molecular Simulations suggest Vitamins, Retinoids and Steroids as Ligands of the Free Fatty Acid Pocket of the SARS‐CoV‐2 Spike Protein https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202015639