A team of scientists has called for research into the role of vitamin B6 in helping to prevent COVID-19 cytokine storms.
Researchers at Hiroshima University have published a paper that highlights a growing body of evidence showing how vitamin B6 exerts a protective effect against chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, by suppressing inflammation, inflammasomes, oxidative stress, and carbonyl stress. The team says that vitamin B6 may play a significant role in helping to calm cytokine storms and unclog blood clots linked to worse outcomes in COVID-19 patients.
The paper has been published in Frontiers in nutrition.
The importance of nutrition
Vitamin B6 is common in foods such as bananas and fish. To date, several studies have highlighted the importance of vitamins such as D, C, zinc, and magnesium in strengthening the immune response against the virus, however, food scientist Thanutchaporn Kumrungsee of Hiroshima University hopes the paper is the first step towards demonstrating the importance of B6 for reducing the likelihood of COVID-19 cytokine storms in patients.
Kumrungsee, an associate professor at Hiroshima University’s Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life, said: “In addition to washing your hands, food and nutrition are among the first lines of defence against COVID-19 virus infection. Food is our first medicine, and the kitchen is our first pharmacy. Recently, many scientists have published papers regarding the role of diets and nutrients in the protection against COVID-19. However, very few scientists are paying attention to the important role of vitamin B6.”
Both blood clotting and cytokine storms – a type of hyperinflammation – may be closely linked to the graveness of COVID-19. The researchers highlight that vitamin B6 is a known anti-thrombosis and anti-inflammation nutrient, and that a deficiency in this vitamin is associated with worse immune function and higher susceptibility to viral infections.
“Vitamin B6 has a close relationship with the immune system. Its levels always drop in people under chronic inflammation such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. We can see from the news that obese and diabetic people are at high risk for COVID-19,” Kumrungsee said.
“Thus, our attempt in this paper is to shed light on the possible involvement of vitamin B6 in decreasing the severity of COVID-19. It is of great interest to examine if vitamin B6 exerts protection against novel types of virus infection and pneumonia which will be encountered in the future. At present, there is few information regarding the protective role of nutrients against pneumonia and lung diseases.
“After COVID-19, we should develop the area of nutrition for lung diseases such as pneumonia and lung cancer.”
The team will be holding clinical trials to test the hypothesis.