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      Immunologic Effects of Vitamin D on Human Health and Disease

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          Abstract

          Vitamin D is responsible for regulation of calcium and phosphate metabolism and maintaining a healthy mineralized skeleton. It is also known as an immunomodulatory hormone. Experimental studies have shown that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, the active form of vitamin D, exerts immunologic activities on multiple components of the innate and adaptive immune system as well as endothelial membrane stability. Association between low levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and increased risk of developing several immune-related diseases and disorders, including psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, sepsis, respiratory infection, and COVID-19, has been observed. Accordingly, a number of clinical trials aiming to determine the efficacy of administration of vitamin D and its metabolites for treatment of these diseases have been conducted with variable outcomes. Interestingly, recent evidence suggests that some individuals might benefit from vitamin D more or less than others as high inter-individual difference in broad gene expression in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in response to vitamin D supplementation has been observed. Although it is still debatable what level of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D is optimal, it is advisable to increase vitamin D intake and have sensible sunlight exposure to maintain serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D at least 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L), and preferably at 40–60 ng/mL (100–150 nmol/L) to achieve the optimal overall health benefits of vitamin D.

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          Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

          The world is in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health measures that can reduce the risk of infection and death in addition to quarantines are desperately needed. This article reviews the roles of vitamin D in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections, knowledge about the epidemiology of influenza and COVID-19, and how vitamin D supplementation might be a useful measure to reduce risk. Through several mechanisms, vitamin D can reduce risk of infections. Those mechanisms include inducing cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral replication rates and reducing concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs, leading to pneumonia, as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Several observational studies and clinical trials reported that vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of influenza, whereas others did not. Evidence supporting the role of vitamin D in reducing risk of COVID-19 includes that the outbreak occurred in winter, a time when 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations are lowest; that the number of cases in the Southern Hemisphere near the end of summer are low; that vitamin D deficiency has been found to contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome; and that case-fatality rates increase with age and with chronic disease comorbidity, both of which are associated with lower 25(OH)D concentration. To reduce the risk of infection, it is recommended that people at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 consider taking 10,000 IU/d of vitamin D3 for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25(OH)D concentrations, followed by 5000 IU/d. The goal should be to raise 25(OH)D concentrations above 40–60 ng/mL (100–150 nmol/L). For treatment of people who become infected with COVID-19, higher vitamin D3 doses might be useful. Randomized controlled trials and large population studies should be conducted to evaluate these recommendations.
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            Obesity and its Implications for COVID-19 Mortality

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              Low serum vitamin D levels and tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

              To explore the association between low serum vitamin D and risk of active tuberculosis in humans. Systematic review and meta-analysis. Observational studies published between 1980 and July 2006 (identified through Medline) that examined the association between low serum vitamin D and risk of active tuberculosis. For the review, seven papers were eligible from 151 identified in the search. The pooled effect size in random effects meta-analysis was 0.68 with 95% CI 0.43-0.93. This 'medium to large' effect represents a probability of 70% that a healthy individual would have higher serum vitamin D level than an individual with tuberculosis if both were chosen at random from a population. There was little heterogeneity between the studies. Low serum vitamin D levels are associated with higher risk of active tuberculosis. Although more prospectively designed studies are needed to firmly establish the direction of this association, it is more likely that low body vitamin D levels increase the risk of active tuberculosis. In view of this, the potential role of vitamin D supplementation in people with tuberculosis and hypovitaminosis D-associated conditions like chronic kidney disease should be evaluated.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nutrients
                Nutrients
                nutrients
                Nutrients
                MDPI
                2072-6643
                15 July 2020
                July 2020
                : 12
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Vitamin D, Skin, and Bone Research Laboratory, Section Endocrinology, Diabetes, Nutrition and Weight Management, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, 85 E Newton St, M-1013, Boston, MA 01228, USA; ncharoen@ 123456bu.edu
                [2 ]Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10700, Thailand
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: mfholick@ 123456bu.edu
                Article
                nutrients-12-02097
                10.3390/nu12072097
                7400911
                32679784
                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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