Can Vitamin D and L-Cysteine Co-Supplementation Reduce 25(OH)-Vitamin D Deficiency and the Mortality Associated with COVID-19 in African Americans?
Early reports indicate an association between the severity of the COVID-19 infection and the widespread 25-hydroxy vitamin D deficiency known to exist in populations around the world. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common among African American (AA) communities, where the COVID-19 infection rate is three-fold higher, and the mortality rate nearly six-fold higher, compared with rates in predominantly white communities. COVID-19 infection primarily affects the lungs and airways. Previous reports have linked 25-hydroxy vitamin D deficiency with subclinical interstitial lung disease. AA are at risk for lower cellular glutathione (GSH) levels, and GSH deficiency epigenetically impairs VD biosynthesis pathway genes. Compared with vitamin D alone, co-supplementation of vitamin D and L-cysteine (a GSH precursor) showed a better efficacy in improving levels of GSH and VD-regulatory genes at the cellular/tissue level, increasing 25(OH) vitamin D levels, and reducing inflammation biomarkers in the blood in mice studies. We propose that randomized clinical trials are needed to examine the potential of co-supplementation with anti-inflammatory antioxidants, vitamin D and L-cysteine in correcting the 25(OH)VD deficiency and preventing the 'cytokine storm,' one of the most severe consequences of infection with COVID-19, thereby preventing the adverse clinical effects of COVID-19 infection in the vulnerable AA population.
J Am Coll Nutr . 2020 Jul 13;1-6. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2020.1789518. Online ahead of print.