According to the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford, United Arab Emirates University and the University of Melbourne, vitamin B is particularly important because it “modulates immune response by downregulating pro-inflammatory cytokines and inflammation, reducing breathing difficulty and gastrointestinal problems, preventing hypercoagulability.”
Cytokines are proteins that are secreted by certain cells of the immune system to regulate immunity and inflammation, while hypercoagulability is the increased tendency of blood to form clots. One of the more dangerous possible results of a COVID-19 infection is a “cytokine storm,” in which the body releases too many of the proteins, which can cause organ failure. Due to vitamin B’s role in modulating the immune response, it could be used to potentially improve outcomes in COVID-19 patients.
Although the researchers didn’t study the effects of vitamin B on COVID-19 patients, they noted that the already existing evidence on the role vitamin B plays in the body’s immune response suggests it would be very beneficial in treating the respiratory disease.
“There is a need to highlight the importance of vitamin B because it plays a pivotal role in cell functioning, energy metabolism, and proper immune function,” the authors write in the study.
“Therefore, vitamin B status should be assessed in COVID-19 patients and vitamin B could be used as a non-pharmaceutical adjunct to current treatments,” they add.
During the pandemic, vitamin C and vitamin D have also gained attention due to their anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting characteristics.
“Low levels of vitamins D and C result in coagulopathy and suppress the immune system, causing lymphocytopenia,” the authors of the study explain.
Lymphocytopenia is a condition characterized by low levels of lymphocytes - a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in the immune system - in the blood.
“Further, vitamin C supplementation increases the oxygenation index in COVID-19 infected patients,” the authors add, referring to a measurement of how much oxygen enters the bloodstream from the lungs when a person breathes.