Ever since the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, innumerable suggestions have been made about immunity-enhancers and boosters to fight the elusive virus. These include spices, herbs, nutraceuticals, teas, multivitamins – the list goes on. However, evidence on the efficacy of these immunity-boosters is limited. On the other hand, research findings and robust data indicate optimal levels of vitamin D as a preventive and alleviating factor against COVID-19 infection.
At Cadila Pharma, our core developmental strategy is to keep our employees healthy and happy. Our ‘people strategy’ entails making employees feel valued. In an effort to boost the immunity of our employees, the well-being of their loved ones and make Cadila a safe workplace, an initiative named ‘Calcirol Mondays’ was commenced.
Calcirol is Cadila’s 50+ year-old premier Vitamin D brand synonymous with trust and efficacy. Every Monday, for four weeks, each employee was given a Calcirol (powder) sachet to consume with either milk or water to enhance Vitamin D levels to the optimum and guard against COVID-19. Employee communication to encourage employees, was created with effective messages pertaining to the benefits of Vitamin D vis-à-vis overall health and COVID-19. All employees across Cadila’s campuses availed the benefits of the initiative.
According to the National Institutes of Health,
“Vitamin D, also known as “calciferol”, is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in a few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.”
Vitamin D is obtained from sun exposure, supplements and foods such as red meat, liver, egg yolks, vitamin D-fortified milk, and oily fish viz. mackerel, herring, sardines and salmon. Vitamin D has two main forms viz. D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) in foods and dietary supplements.
So, what does Vitamin D do for us? Quite a bit, actually. The most important function of this vitamin is maintaining normal levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. Vitamin D is vital to overall good health as it is responsible for the absorption of calcium which in turn forms and maintains strong bones reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis, cancer, depression, hypertension and several autoimmune diseases. In addition, vitamin D also supports breast, prostate and colon health, and regulates moods. More importantly, studies have found that Vitamin D is responsible for triggering the body’s immune cells to produce antibodies. This strengthens the overall immune system warding off infections.
According to findings published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health (2020), “several studies demonstrated the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of acute viral respiratory tract infections and pneumonia” –the results of COVID-19 complications. Sufficient vitamin D levels in the body help reduce these risks and the need for supplemental oxygen in COVID-19 patients. Optimal levels of the vitamin also help control COVID-19 complications such as the cytokine storm or the release of proteins into the body too quickly. This can further reduce the chances of death in COVID-19 patients. In summary, ideal vitamin D levels, which also mean a strong immune system, curtail the severity and mortality resulting from COVID-19 infection.