Role of vitamin D in COVID-19 and chronic health problems

Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, viz., Vitamin A, D, E, K. Besides being an important nutrient for regulating many bodily functions, it is a hormone which our body makes. It is also known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin because sun is the ultimate source from where we procure most of the vitamin D (apart from some foods which naturally contain some amounts of this vitamin in them, while there are some others that are fortified with vitamin D). 

It is a unique nutrient because it can be made in the skin from exposure to sunlight. When UVB (ultraviolet B) light/rays from the sun strikes our skin, it synthesizes vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol). Most oil-rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring contain vitamin D3. These can, however, not be considered as reliable sources because of two reasons, one being the insufficient amounts of vitamin D contained in them and secondly, the presence of a deadly toxin Mercury. 

(Refer to the following article to know about the dangers of mercury) 

Functions of vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in our body by-

The deficiency of this vitamin is also known to be a major player in the onset and progression of many chronic diseases as follows-

Vitamin D and Cancer

Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3), the biologically most active form of vitamin D while vitamin D receptor (VDR) is a carrier of vitamin D which helps in transport of the vitamin in our body. The anti-cancer effects of vitamin D are due to the actions of calcitriol. Studies have observed that calcitriol can arrest the growth of cancer cells and can also inhibit their spread (metastasis). Death of our functioning cells can also be prevented by the anti inflammatory activities of calcitriol (2).

Vitamin D and Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs)

Due to its antioxidative and anti inflammatory properties, vitamin D has a huge role in the prevention of CVDs,i.e., heart and related diseases. Sufficient vitamin D can reverse the atherosclerotic burden by its anticoagulant effect (helps in prevention of clots) and inhibition of  inflammatory pathways responsible for causing the disease. Additionally, sufficient vitamin D has been found particularly useful in Hypertension.

Vitamin D and Diabetes

Vitamin D receptor (VDR) has a crucial role in preserving the function of islet cells. It can  improve both insulin sensitivity and insulin synthesis and hence, low vitamin D levels have repeatedly been shown to be linked with increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It does so by inhibiting the inflammatory factors and alleviating chronic inflammation process of the pancreas to improve the function of islet β cells (β cells of islets secrete Insulin).

Vitamin D and Immune system diseases

Calcitriol along with VDR are essential for our immune system biology. Many immune cells in our body (monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, T cells, and B cells) work closely with VDR. This combination of VDR and the immune cells of our body can help in delaying the progress of chronic inflammatory autoimmune diseases (Autoimmune thyroid diseases- Hashimoto’s and Grave’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, type-1 diabetes, etc).

Vitamin D and COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a global public health crisis. Little is known about the protective factors of this infection.

One of the preventive health measures that can reduce the risk of infection, progression and severity of this deadly virus and is being increasingly postulated is supplementation of Vitamin D.

As it can profoundly improve our immune status (Vitamin D and Immune system diseases), it has been used as an adjunct treatment therapy in the reversal of COVID-19 and also other respiratory problems in the past as well (Tuberculosis, common cold, Asthma and so on).

Also it has been found, in some recent reviews, that vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency may compromise respiratory immune function, thus, increasing the risk of COVID-19 occurrence.

Vitamin D and neurological disorders

It has been well documented that D-vitamin can protect our brian nerves by its antioxidant effects, thereby significantly reducing the risk of depression, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and neurocognitive decline. Moreover, vitamin D may also be involved in the development and function of the brain.

Vitamin D and fractures, falls

It has been found that vitamin D may increase muscle strength and can thus, prevent falls.Many studies have shown an association between low vitamin D concentrations and an increased risk of fractures and falls in older adults.

Risk factors affecting Vitamin D status in the body

Vitamin D- natural or supplementary may interact with several types of medications like- Corticosteroids 

Orlistat and Cholestyramine 

Phenobarbital and phenytoin


Medications to treat AIDS/HIV

Hence, to avoid malabsorption, these drugs are generally advised to be taken several hours apart from vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D deficiency

In children, rickets is caused due to deficiency, wherein the bones become soft and bend. Osteomalacia is yet another problem which causes weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness. The outcome of D deficiency in terms of osteoporosis and increased fracture risk is well known.

One of the most serious disorders associated with vitamin D deficiency is the convulsive state of hypocalcemia tetany, which is caused by insufficient supplies of calcium to nerves and muscles.

Further, due to its long list of functionalities, vitamin D deficiency can lead to many health problems.

Vitamin D requirements

Optimal levels of vitamin D in the blood should be between 50-75 ng/ml. For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement because it is hard to eat enough through food and even sunlight exposure. Vitamin D supplements are available in two forms: vitamin D2 (“ergocalciferol” or pre-vitamin D) and vitamin D3 (“cholecalciferol”). D2 is produced in plants and fungi and D3 in animals, including humans.

So tribe, get yourself checked for your vitamin D levels today and avoid all the untimely health risks just in time. We at ThriveFNC can help you in resolving your health issues, if you’re already dealing with any. Feel free to book a consultation today!


About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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Role of Coenzyme Q10 in our body

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also known as, ubiquinone, is a vitamin-like compound which is naturally synthesized by our body. It is a potent antioxidant found in every one of our fifty trillion cells—and it is the only lipid-soluble antioxidant our bodies actually synthesize. Coenzyme Q10 is a key component of the mitochondria - the energy-producing units of the cells in our body. The level of CoQ10 is the highest in organs with high rates of metabolism such as the heart, kidney, and liver. 

This bionutrient is widely found in many animal protein sources (pork, lamb, beef, chicken, fish), vegetables (spinach, pea, broccoli, cauliflower) and fruits (orange, strawberry, apple). Heart, chicken leg, herring, and trout contain particularly high amounts of CoQ10. Daily intake between 3 and 5 mg is considered adequate. CoQ10 is fat-soluble, so it is better absorbed when taken with a meal that contains oil or fat.

Because of its energy-rich and antioxidant capacity, it has a significant, broad impact on aging and health. Levels of coQ10 decline with aging. Inflammation is a frequent aging-related problem. CoQ10, by reduction of free radicals reduces the release of pro-inflammatory substances. A recent study provided evidence that CoQ10 supplementation can reduce

the inflammatory markers like CRP (C-reactive protein), IL-6 and TNF-α. 

Since your heart cells can't function without energy, they can't function without CoQ10. The heart beats 100,000 times each day and this requires a huge amount of energy. The heart, composed of muscle tissue, contains the largest amount of energy-generating mitochondria of any muscle, so it is not surprising that CoQ10 has been shown to be very important for cardiovascular health.

The potential use of coenzyme Q10 supplements alone or in combination with other drug therapies and nutritional supplements may help prevent or treat some of the following conditions: 

High blood pressure, cancer, periodontal diseases, mitochondrial disorders, radiation injury, obesity, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), gastric ulcers, allergy, migraine headaches, kidney failure, muscular dystrophy, and aging. 

CoQ10 also has a significant role in boosting the immune system and physical performance, as tissues and cells involved with immune function are highly energy-dependent and therefore require an adequate supply of CoQ10 for optimal function.

Coenzyme Q10 deficiency is not seen usually and if occurs, is a result of genetic malfunction. Besides, drugs like Warfarin and statins interfere with the functioning of CoQ10 and cause a reduction of its level in blood.

As you age, your body's natural production of CoQ10 declines, making CoQ10 supplementation even more important. Plus, supplementing with higher dietary levels of CoQ10 can nutritionally support overall health.










About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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Zinc- an quintessential nutrient

Though it is a micronutrient, zinc is an essential mineral which has enormous health significance. It is required for aiding the activity of almost 300 of the body’s enzymes. Besides it has tons of other physiological functions in the body which makes it of utmost importance for a healthy, disease-free life.

Zinc and health

Zinc is a major player in our body for optimum health because of its following roles in:

1) Assisting the activity of enzymes involved with the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate, fat and alcohol

2) Assisting the activity of enzymes involved in cell division and the synthesis of DNA.

3) Assisting in protein synthesis

4) Assisting in manufacture of Insulin

5) Proper functioning of the thyroid hormones

6) Tissue growth (connective tissue) and maintenance 

7) Wound healing

8) Sense of taste and smell

9) Improving immune system functioning and thereby immunity, 

10) Normal functioning and development of brain and help to enhance memory and improve   mental

11) Prostaglandin (Pgs) production (Pgs are active lipid compounds involved in controlling inflammation, infection, blood clot formation, etc.)

12) Bone mineralization

13) Transporting Vitamin A in blood

14) Fetal growth, sperm production, normal functioning of prostate

15) Promoting the formation of collagen to make hair, skin and nails 

16) Regulating body fluid pH

Food sources

A wide variety of foods contain zinc. Fruits and vegetables, however, are poor providers of zinc. Red meat, lamb, pork, shellfish (oysters, crab, mussel and shrimp) are some of the foods containing excellent amounts of zinc followed by legumes (beans, chickpeas and lentils), seeds (flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds) and nuts (cashews, peanuts), eggs, whole grains (rice, oats, quinoa).

However, there are antinutritional substances (Phytates, Saponins, Tannins) in plant based foods which interfere with zinc absorption and decrease its availability. Approximately 20-40% of consumed zinc is absorbed by the body, depending on the bioavailability in the actual food source (bioavailability of zinc from grains and plant foods is lower than that from animal foods).

Zinc deficiency and Causes 

Zinc is such a critical element in human health that even a small deficiency is a disaster. Zinc deficiency has been implicated as a factor in:

1) Loss of taste and smell

2) Growth retardation

3) Delayed mental and psychomotor development in young children

4) Imapired immune system function

5) Increased susceptibility to infectious disease in children (diarrhea, Pneumonia, Malaria,) along with age-related decline in immunity

6) Type 2 diabetes mellitus 

7) Age related macular degeneration (AMD is a degenerative disease of the macula and a leading cause of blindness in people aged >65 years)

8) Alzheimer’s disease

9) Depression

10) Neonatal Sepsis

11) Birth Defects and low Birth Weight

12) Delayed Sexual Development

13) Diminished Wound Healing

14) Anorexia/ Loss of Appetite

15) Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy

16) Impotence

17) Some Hair, Nail and Joint conditions

18) Arthritic Problems

19) Skin Conditions such as Acne and Dermatitis

20) Defective bone mineralization

21) Weight Loss

22) Hypogonadism in Males

23) Lack of Sexual Development in females

24) Small Breasts in Females

25) Dwarfism

26) Delayed Puberty in Adolescents

These numerous symptoms of acquired zinc deficiency are a result of insufficient zinc in foods eaten or malabsorption problems like gastrointestinal disorders, chronic liver or kidney

disease, sickle cell anaemia, malignancy and other chronic illnesses. The availability of zinc is also hindered by something called nutrient interactions. Nutrients like iron, copper, calcium and folate can impair zinc absorption. 

Much of what is known about severe zinc deficiency was derived from a study of individuals born with acrodermatitis enteropathica, a genetic disorder resulting from the impaired zinc use in the body.

During the current corona pandemic, new therapeutic options against this viral disease are urgently desired. Due to its direct antiviral properties, and its role in preserving natural tissue barriers such as the respiratory epithelium, preventing pathogen entry and for a balanced function of the immune system, zinc administration can be beneficial for most of the population, especially those with low zinc status.


Zinc supplementation is a powerful therapeutic tool in managing a long list of illnesses because of inadequacy resulting from diet. Moreover, the actual availability of zinc from food sources is limited. Providing zinc in the form of supplements becomes all the more important, if you’re someone who is already zinc deficient. Supplements contain several forms of zinc, including zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate, and zinc acetate and zinc picolinate. The percentage of elemental zinc varies by form. Zinc is available as pills and lozenges in the supplement form.

Oral zinc therapy results in the complete remission of symptoms in people with inherited zinc deficiency, though it must be maintained indefinitely.

Zinc toxicity

Zinc as an essential element and its requirement is widely known. However increased absorption can cause malabsorption of iron and copper. Zinc is also present in some denture adhesive creams. Chronic, excessive use can lead to zinc toxicity, resulting in copper deficiency and neurologic disease.

We at ThriveFNC can evaluate from your blood tests and determine if you are zinc deficient.


About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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Importance of Magnesium

Magnesium (Mg) is the fourth most common mineral in our body. More than half of the magnesium is deposited in the bone with the remaining found in the muscles and soft tissues. This mineral has been identified as being involved in the activation of more than 300 enzymes and body chemicals and is a key component in the cellular processes that generate energy and metabolism. Despite the importance of magnesium, it remains one of the least understood and appreciated elements. The reason for it not getting the needed attention is because of rare signs and symptoms until levels are really low.

Functions of Mg

Magnesium is a critical mineral in our body governing the activity of hundreds of enzymes encompassing, approximately, 80% of known metabolic functions. Bodily functions of which magnesium is an integral part of are as follows:

Energy-yielding metabolism

Normal muscle function (contraction and relaxation)

Release of ‘happy hormone’ (Serotonin)

Maintenance of normal bones

Regulation of Calcium status

Relaxation and sleep

Electrolyte balance and control of blood vessel tone

Maintaining regular bowel movements

Stressful events, challenging times or even unsettled relationships may sometimes end up in depression and contribute to our nervous system working in either fight or flight mode. Magnesium impacts the neurotransmitter balance which are chemical messengers of the nervous system, and works with calcium to maintain optimum nerve transmission.

Magnesium is the answer here, mainly because this mineral contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system and helps in coping up with depressing situations.

Moreover, evidence suggest that elite athletes need adequate amounts magnesium to support a training and recovery programme for a variety of reasons like electrolyte balance, normal muscle function, energy yielding, protein synthesis and reduction in tiredness and fatigue.

Magnesium is of utmost importance for a healthy heart. It also helps in relieving menstrual cramps and has found a role in reducing migraine headaches.

Magnesium influences biochemical pathways in the brain that may promote relaxation and is a great standby for a good night’s sleep.

One of the most important roles of Mg is assisting in converting Vitamin D to its active form. This is the reason that even if your body has adequate vitamin D, still its working would not be optimum and to its fullest.

Inadequate magnesium intake has been associated with several chronic health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and chronic pain.

Food sources

It’s worth remembering that foods which are high in fibre are generally also high in magnesium. Top food sources of Mg include- Pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts, avocado, potato (with skin), banana, kidney beans. Also, we cannot deny the presence of major anti-nutrients (oxalates, phytates, lectins) in the plant based foods which usually hinder the absorption and thereby the availability of Mg. So, these foods might not be the best sources to incorporate in your daily diet. Magnesium is an essential mineral for health and is required in relatively large amounts.

The process of Mg absorption is usually hindered by several factors including:

-Dietary protein influences magnesium absorption in the gut

-Enteric-coated magnesium capsules tend to decrease absorption in the intestine

-Zinc supplements may decrease magnesium absorption

Deficiency and Causes of low levels

Extremely low levels of magnesium in the body can lead to a condition commonly known as Hypomagnesemia. The causes of hypomagnesemia can be broken down into the following categories

 1)Inadequate intake of Mg rich foods/ supplements

 2)Gastrointestinal losses or impaired absorption (due to diarrhea, malabsorption, vomiting, IBS and ulcerative colitis)

 3)Losses from kidneys (due to wasting from drugs- diuretics, chemotherapy)

 4)Excessive alcohol and smoking

 5)Diabetes (long term), Pancreatitis

 6)Massive burns

Some other conditions such as hyperthyroidism, heavy periods, excessive sweating, kidney disease may also lead to low levels of magnesium. In addition, excessive intakes of salt, and coffee might also lower Mg levels.

While chronic stress may also lead to depleted magnesium reserves.

Generally symptoms that are indicative of magnesium deficiency may include:

• Agitation

• Anxiety

• Insomnia

• Irritability

• Restless legs

• Muscle spasm

• Muscle weakness

• Hyperventilation

• Poor nail growth

• Seizures

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Palpitations

• Low blood pressure

• Confusion

Mg Supplements

The absorption of magnesium from the diet is typically around 50% and this makes the use of potential Mg supplement a necessity. Besides, the soil and water quality is getting degraded, day-by-day, making it furthermore difficult to fulfill the actual daily requirement of Mg from food alone. Therefore, it becomes necessary to supplement magnesium with an appropriate formulation.

Magnesium supplements typically come as tablets or capsules. There are also

liposomes, powders, liquids and chewable gummies available. Standard oral magnesium typically shows poor absorption and uptake in the body due to its degradation by enzymes in our gut. These challenges are overcome with liposomes because the magnesium is encapsulated within a membrane (phospholipid) that protects the contents from any adverse

conditions in the gut environment. Liposomal Mg (also known as Altrient Mg) are shown to be better absorbed than traditional oral forms because they are metabolised through different mechanisms in the body. There are many different magnesium formulations with different uses.

Dietary magnesium does not pose a health risk, however excessive doses of magnesium in supplements may promote adverse effects such as diarrhoea and abdominal cramping. Those with end stage kidney disease should go with caution on using Mg supplements because the ability of excretion deteriorates as the kidney function declines. However, magnesium has been observed to be useful in reducing phosphate toxicity. So, your blood reports are really the answer when it comes to taking Mg supplements during kidney dysfunction.

So if you're someone who is suffering from mood issues, sleep problems and other related symptoms then magnesium might be your answer.



The underrated nutrient- Selenium

With its name derived from the Greek word “Selene,” selenium has caught attention as a micronutrient since 1817. Selenium (Se) is an essential trace mineral which is of fundamental importance to human health. Trace minerals are those which are required by your body in tiny amounts. 

Both organic and inorganic forms of selenium can be absorbed by your small intestine and in turn can be widely distributed in various body tissues and render important biological functions.

Hundreds of health benefits have been linked to it, ranging from its splendid antioxidant capacity to diligently working as a catalyst for production of the active Thyroid hormone (T3) and the list goes on and on. 

A wealth of research has put a light on its magnificent role in improving immunity, bad, fertility enhancement, efficient Thyroid gland working and reducing the risk of heart problems.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, Selenium has also established its utmost importance in keeping away metabolic problems. These are disorders that disrupt the normal metabolism, i.e., the process of converting food into energy. Problems of high cholesterol and constantly high blood sugar levels were improved following supplementation with Selenium, a study reveals.

In certain inborn errors, for instance, Phenylketonuria (PKU) in which there is faulty metabolism of an amino acid named- Phenylalanine and manifestation of mental problems, improved patient conditions were observed with Selenium supplementation. 

Symptoms of Se deficiency manifest as recurrent infections due to weakened immune system, hair loss, brain fog, fatigue as well as fertility issues in men and women. 

Se intake is extremely variable across the world due to a number of factors, including the Se content of the soil in which crops and fodder are grown, soil pH and organic-matter content, and the presence of ions that can bind with Se, making it unavailable.

Recommended dose of selenium varies in different countries in consideration of differences in geographical as well as in living styles of particular populations. This fact enables the effects of both Se deficiency and excess to be observed in the natural world.The effects of Se excess are probably less well known. Apart from some occasional cases of overdose where people have ingested wrongly formulated supplements. You can find Selenium from Brazil nuts, an excellent dietary source and also from organic animal liver and meat.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made a recommendation on the dose of selenium for adults to be 30 to 40 μg/day and stated that daily intake up to 400 μg selenium shall be considered safe.

Reach out to ThriveFNC to know more about your health concerns. We are also available for a FREE consultation. Click below!


About the Author

Ria Jain
Ria has a Master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics and is in a permanent research mode and keeps the rest of us at ThriveFNC updated with her latest findings in the field of Nutrition. Her articles on ThriveFNC’s blog are an expression of her research findings. We really don’t know what we’d do without her support and her focus.
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