Coronavirus and Nutrients: What Really Helps Against COVID-19?

The vitamin D it is one of the most popular research objects in times of COVID-19. One of the most promising studies published in this regard belongs to the Spanish pulmonologist Marta Castillo.

"This is one of the studies that is used over and over again to demonstrate the efficacy of vitamin D," says Martin Smollich, a pharmacologist and professor at the Institute for Nutritional Medicine at the University of Schleswig-Holstein Medical Center in Lübeck.

Smollich investigates micronutrients and nutritional supplements and tries to show a differentiated image on this subject, precisely at a time when the influence of vitamins and food supplements is, for ideological and economic reasons, exaggerated or ridiculed.

Scientific evidence

At first glance, the result of Castillo's study is optimistic: Of the 50 COVID-19 patients who were given vitamin D, only one was in intensive care. However, of those who did not take vitamin D, 50 percent were in intensive care.

"The first step in such studies is to observe what the composition of both groups is like," says Smollich. In order to respond to the effectiveness of vitamin D, the groups must be as similar as possible.

Comprehensive method?

But this is exactly where the problem lies. The study lists some risk factors and provides information on how many patients have certain pre-existing diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, for example.

"Only six percent of the participants who received vitamin D were diabetic, but 19 percent of the patients who only received placebo," says Smollich.

The difference between people with hypertension is even more striking: 57 percent of the participants who did not receive vitamin D had high blood pressure. In the other group, only 24 percent. "This means that the patients were in the group without vitamin D," sums up the pharmacologist. The expert is sure that such heterogeneous groups clearly distort the results of the study.

But this is not all: "In the case of COVID-19, we know that both diabetes and hypertension are risk factors that favor a severe evolution," says Smollich. "Therefore, it is not surprising that patients in the group without vitamin D were more frequently in the intensive care unit," he concludes.

A study conducted with such inaccurate methodology does not clarify whether participants in the control group had to receive intensive medical care more often, because they lacked vitamin D or because they had more serious previous illnesses.

Relationship between food-related illnesses and COVID-19

Numerous studies have concluded that vitamin D does not have a significant influence on the evolution of a patient with COVID-19. However, type 2 diabetes, obesity or hypertension have something in common: they are all diseases related to diet.

According to Anika Wagner, Professor of Nutrition and Immune System at the University of Giessen, "Nutrients are important for various levels of the immune system." In other words, the lack of nutrients weakens the various defense mechanisms of the immune system, which makes it easier for pathogens to cause damage.

Wagner adds that "in principle, it recommends meeting the nutritional needs with the daily diet." However, the increasing rate of overweight people is a clear sign that a lack of a healthy diet goes hand in hand with a lack of nutrients.

"Obese people tend to consume more foods that are high in energy, but with few micronutrients," explains Wagner. That is, sugary drinks, processed products and sweets. Nutritional deficiency weakens the immune system, and in obese, hypertensive and diabetic people it can lead to a severe evolution of COVID-19.

And this is where vitamin D comes into play again, because vitamin D deficiency "occurs more frequently in diseases and living conditions in which the risk of COVID-19 in turn increases, that is, in old age. , in people with obesity or type 2 diabetes ", writes Martin Smollich in his specialized blog" Nutritional Medicine ".

It is a vicious cycle that is neither new nor unknown. And yet "in Germany, the relationship between diet and disease is often completely ignored. And this strikes me as very dramatic, because it is something that could have been changed," says Smollich. "Instead, the coronavirus pandemic hit a society in which diet-related diseases are normal," criticizes the expert.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *