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How Sunlight and Sleep can Protect You from COVID?

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How Sunlight and Sleep can Protect You from COVID?

Introduction

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During lockdown as the result of COVID-19 in early 2019, mental health-related issues have taken a steep rise.

With the spread of COVID, which eventually resulted in the death of millions of people, mental health problems became a major roadblock in everyone’s lives.

This was something, which was beyond anyone’s control.

So, the medical fraternity started searching for ways and means to boost the body’s immunity.

Without wasting any further time let’s dive into the topic, “How Sunlight and Sleep can Protect You from COVID?”.

Courtesy – YouTube Channel of WHO

How COVID affected Cars’ Production?

Our article is based on the proof that Vitamin D’s role in boosting immunity.

So, do spend time outdoors in the winter sun, and don’t skimp on sleep if you want your immune system to remain shipshape.

COVID has fucked us in ways we don’t even realise.

Recently a report was released regarding the adverse impact on car production – not because of slipping demand, but a parts crunch.

As people were forced to stay at home during a Worldwide lockdown in March 2020, demands for smartphones, laptops and gaming consoles shot up.

Some countries also started installing 5G infrastructure.

So, semiconductor makers diverted their capacity to make more of the chips needed for smart devices, leading to a shortage of chips needed for vehicle control systems.

How Vitamin D Fights Infection by Boosting Immunity?

Smartphones were not the only thing we bought more of last year.

As per the reports by Washington Post, the demand for Vitamin D supplements in December 2020 was 41.5% higher than in December 2019.

Sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, which means the human body needs it but can’t make it.

While some foods contain vitamin D, people have traditionally gotten most of their vitamin D from the sun: When exposed to ultraviolet light, a chemical reaction takes place in the skin that results in the production of vitamin D.

The authors of that 2019 study point out that diet, behavior, clothing choices, and skin color all affect vitamin D status.

Effects of Skin Tone

The darker a person’s skin, the more sun they require to make vitamin D.

If dark-skinned Europeans in countries such as Spain and Italy avoid the sun, slather on sunscreen, and wear clothing that covers much of their body, this could partly explain why their vitamin D levels may be lower than those of the Portuguese.

That study also points out that the light-skinned residents of Nordic countries need a little sun to produce vitamin D.

They also tend to eat diets rich in cod liver oil and other seafood sources of vitamin D, and many foods in those countries are fortified with vitamin D — all of which could explain that population’s enviable blood levels of the vitamin.

The ‘sunshine vitamin’ has been selling fast because many studies have shown a link between its deficiency and lower immunity.

The Post cites a study from Chicago that found people who had diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency earlier were “77% more likely” to fall sick with COVID.

Another study in Italy found that among patients who were hospitalised with acute respiratory failure due to COVID-19, 81% were Vitamin D deficient.

How Vitamin D helps?

The benefits of sunlight may extend beyond its ability to slay Covid-19 outside the body.

When people are exposed to UV light, he says, this may cause changes inside the human body that both strengthen the immune system and block Covid-19 from replicating and causing severe illness.

But until recently it was not clear whether lack of Vitamin D “causes” low immunity or is merely “correlated” with it.

It’s like this – people drink lots of tea in winter, but tea consumption is not responsible for low temperatures.

As the post says, “Despite years of research into the use of Vitamin D in respiratory tract infections, there still hasn’t really been a clear, slam dunk answer that there’s a benefit.”

The good news is that we have some proof of Vitamin D’s efficacy.

While dozens of trials are on to specifically investigate the Vitamin D – Covid link, a study published in the British Society for Immunology’s ‘Immunotherapy Advances’ journal in late-November shows how Vitamin D3 improves immunity in older adults.

Fort their research, scientists used the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) that causes chickenpox.

Immunity to chickenpox is believed to last your whole life, but as you age, the immune system’s response gets dull.

So, the study looked at people in the 65 plus age group with low vitamin D levels.

The first time they were injected with a small amount of virus, the elderly subjects were slow off the mark in fighting it.

Then, they were put on a 14-week vitamin replacement regimen involving large (6400 IU) daily doses of vitamin D3.

The next time they were exposed to the virus, their immune systems fought back with alacrity.

The study concluded: “vitamin D3 replacement can boost antigen-specific immunity in older adults with suboptimal vitamin D status.”

In other words, maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D – whether with supplements or sun exposure – will protect you from all kinds of diseases. But make sure you don’t overdose.

Artificial Sources of Vitamin D?

But it’s not clear that getting vitamin D from a pill is as effective as sunlight at raising levels of vitamin D in the body.

There may be “limited absorption” from supplements, and some past work on the health benefits of vitamin D pills has been mixed. 

Even if a supplement could effectively raise vitamin D levels, it would not provide the nitric oxide boost associated with sun exposure — the one that may stop the spread of Covid-19 in the body.

While sun exposure comes with risks, the benefits of spending time in the sun could prove to be a multi-pronged weapon against Covid-19.

Some dermatologists who have examined the benefits and risks of sunlight say, controversially, that most serious skin cancer concerns arise when people experience blistering or peeling sunburns.

“I think the benefits of [non-burning] sun exposure may outweigh the skin cancer risks,” says Matthew Zirwas, MD, an Ohio-based dermatologist who has published research on UV light and skin disease.

Especially in the midst of Covid-19, he says getting some sun — not enough to burn, but enough to tan — makes a lot of sense.

Sleep Control Inflammation

When Donald Trump had COVID, his doctors put him on a course of medicines that included the sleep hormone melatonin.

As night falls, the body starts releasing more of this hormone into the blood to make us sleepy, James Hamblin, who is a doctor himself, write The Atlantic.

Courtesy – YouTube

It appears the melatonin has a role beyond making us sleepy, though.

It stops the immune system from going haywire – the biggest challenge in treating COVID as even mild cases turn life-threatening because of the immune system’s hyper reaction.

That might be because sleep is the body’s own “anti-inflammatory cleansing process,” perfected over millions of years of evolution.

Research on the Coronavirus shows “the virus could potentially be blocked by melatonin.” And Columbia University scientists have claimed that “intubated patients had better rates of survival if they received melatonin.

Eight clinical trials are on to confirm if melatonin really works against COVID, and if they are successful, “it would be the cheapest and most readily accessible medicine to counter COVID-19.”

But the point he’s making is not that you fall sick and then start dosing on hormones to heal.

No, the sane thing is to listen to your body, when it tells you to sleep and sleep well.

“It may well turn out that standard pandemic advice would be to wear a mask, keep distance, and get sleep… (and not) take a supplement and continue to binge Netflix and stare at your phone in bed.

Courtesy – YouTube

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Courtesy: – Elemental Medium

Times of India

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