Vitamin B6 may help calm cytokine storms in COVID-19

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Vitamin B6 may help calm cytokine storms and unclog blood clots linked to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) lethality, according to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

In the paper, researchers from Hiroshima University pointed out growing evidence showing that vitamin B6 exerts a protective effect against chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes by suppressing inflammation, inflammasomes, oxidative stress, and carbonyl stress. Coronaviruses and influenza are among the viruses that can cause lethal lung injuries and death from acute respiratory distress syndrome worldwide. Viral infections evoke a “cytokine storm,” leading to lung capillary endothelial cell inflammation, neutrophil infiltration, and increased oxidative stress, the researchers said.

The researchers said thrombosis or blood clotting and cytokine storm or hyper-inflammation might be closely linked to the graveness of COVID-19. Cytokine storms happen when the immune system dangerously goes into overdrive and starts attacking even the healthy cells. Meanwhile, blood clots linked to COVID-19 can block capillaries, damaging vital organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, according to the study.

Vitamin B6 is a known anti-thrombosis and anti-inflammation nutrient. Deficiency in this vitamin is also associated with lower immune function and higher susceptibility to viral infections.

Studies have so far explored the benefits of vitamins D and C and minerals like zinc and magnesium in fortifying immune response against COVID-19. Research on vitamin B6 has been limited, the researchers said. The researchers said they hope the paper will show vitamin B6's potential in lowering the odds of patients becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus, and prompt further research.

"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,” said Thanutchaporn Kumrungsee, PhD, lead author of the paper, in a statement. “At present, there is few information regarding the protective role of nutrients against pneumonia and lung diseases.”

Vitamin B6 has a close relationship with the immune system, she said. Its levels always drop in people under chronic inflammation such as obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases.

“We can see from the news that obese and diabetic people are at high risk for COVID-19, said Kumrungsee. “Thus, our attempt in this paper is to shed light on the possible involvement of vitamin B6 in decreasing the severity of COVID-19.”

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