There is growing evidence to suggest insufficient levels of vitamin D are linked to more severe COVID-19 symptoms and a higher likelihood of infection. As an estimated 1 billion people globally are insufficient in Vitamin D, ramifications for combatting the virus could be huge.
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic one question confounding experts has been why some people react to the virus worse than others. Some show little to no symptoms whilst others are left fighting for their lives. Factors such as age and general health play a role, and some evidence suggests blood type may play some part. The strongest correlation, however, is starting to emerge between severity of symptoms and deficiency in vitamin D..
Vitamin D vs COVID-19 Severity
A number of studies have begun looking at the link between vitamin D levels and severity of Coronavirus symptoms. This study using 780 patients in Indonesia controlled for age and other factors and found:
- 98% OF PATIENTS WITH VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY DIED. ——————————————————————
- 88% WITH VITAMIN D INSUFFICIENCY DIED. —————————————————————————————
- ONLY 4% OF PATIENTS WITH SUFFICIENT VITAMIN D DIED.
Another study in the Philippines found that for every standard deviation increase in vitamin D people were:
- 7.94 times more likely to have a mild rather than severe COVID-19 outcome
- 19.61 times more likely to have a mild rather than critical COVID-19 outcome.
Vitamin D vs Respiratory Tract Infections
While correlation does not mean causation, the patterns emerging concerning vitamin D and Coronavirus make sense to experts. Long established evidence has shown vitamin D to be effective in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections in general. Data from 25 randomised controlled trials demonstrated that supplementing vitamin D reduced risk of acute respiratory infection by more than 50% in people with low vitamin D baselines. A 10% reduced risk was also seen in people with higher baseline vitamin D. Vitamin D has also been shown to protect against and alleviate lung injury. As acute lung injury is seen in severe cases of COVID-19 this could have implications for both treatment and prevention of severe symptoms.
Widespread Deficiency in Vitamin D
Vitamin D is made by our skin naturally when exposed to sunlight. This is thought to be the best natural source of vitamin D, and may circulate twice as long as food derived vitamin D. It is also available through food sources such as:
- FATTY FISH – Tuna, Mackerel, Salmon ———————————————————————-
- SEAFOOD – Oysters, Shrimp ————————————————————————————–
- MUSHROOMS ———————————————————————————————————–
- EGG YOLKS ————————————————————————————————————–
- FORTIFIED FOODS such as; cow’s milk, soy, orange juice, tofu.
Despite the apparent availability of Vitamin D studies show deficiency to be a major global health problem, even in countries with plenty of sunshine. In fact an estimated 1 billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency.
RISK FACTORS for vitamin D deficiency include:
- DARK SKIN – People with darker skin need to spend more time in the sun to produce vitamin D as their skin has more melanin. Melanin offers some protection from sun damage, but has the trade off of inhibiting vitamin D production. ——————————————————————————————————————————————–
- AGE – older people are more at risk from vitamin D deficiency as vitamin D production becomes less efficient as you age. ———————————————————————————————————————————
- OVERWEIGHT – Obese people have 50% less bioavailability of vitamin D as the fat-soluble vitamin D has greater difficulty being released into the bloodstream. ————————————————————————————————————-
- GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION – people living in Northern latitudes have less opportunity to produce vitamin D as less UVB radiation reaches the atmosphere. The further away from the equator you live the less adequate sun exposure you are likely to get. ————————————————————————————————————-
- CLOTHING & SUNSCREEN – While it’s vital to protect your skin from cancer, clothing and sunscreen can block vitamin D production. Studies show that as little as 8 – 15 minutes of sun exposure can be enough for you body to start producing vitamin D in warmer climates. ———————————————————————————————————————————————————
- PHYSICAL INACTIVITY – studies have found physically inactive people to be 2 times more likely to be vitamin D deficient.
Should You Supplement Vitamin D?
Due to the factors listed above, many people find it difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from natural sources. Most are unaware that their vitamin D levels are critically low. For this reason the evidence suggests vitamin D supplements should be taken to reduce risk of Coronavirus infection and death.
Under normal conditions daily dose of 1,000 to 4,000 IU’s is recommended to maintain healthy levels. However you may need a larger dose if your levels are deficient or if you have limited exposure to sunshine. This study recommends that “at risk” people take 10,000 IU’s per day of vitamin D for a few weeks to rapidly raise levels, followed by 5000 IU’s per day. However do not consume more than 4000 IU’s per day without your doctors permission, as it may exceed the safe upper limits.
When supplementing it is important to insure supplements are high-quality and independently tested. Click here to purchase vitamin D from a trusted supplier on Amazon.
If you found this article interesting or have anything to add, please leave a comment in the section below. Thanks!