Medical Research Studies Say Essential Vitamin D May Reduce Your Risk of COVID-19

covid and vitamin D

Most people don't think about sunshine or gut health when they are considering how to stay safe from contracting viruses.  As the health of the world continues to change, it is time to adapt our ways of thinking about how to optimize our immune resilience.

The human body is perfectly designed.  Our body internally manufactures one of the main nutrients to bolster our immune system -- Vitamin D.

With a new wave of Coronavirus cases and increased concerns for safety as winter approaches, new research is indicating that supplementing with vitamin D may be a key factor in keeping us resilient and healthy. 

Vitamin D Works To Target Infection

Medical experts suggest that having sufficient vitamin D levels can reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus and lessen complications in a severe infection.  Vitamin D works to target infection by reducing the cytokine storm in response to viral and bacterial infections and enhances cellular innate immunity by inducing antimicrobial peptides.  

Current research indicates that 80% of research participants with COVID were deficient in vitamin D.  Those with COVID-19 and insufficient vitamin D also had increased inflammatory markers (such as ferritin and D-dimer) linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes COVID-19 patients with sufficient vitamin D markers had a 51.5% reduced risk of dying and less complications. A brand new study of 190,000 patients conducted by a top Vitamin D researcher confirmed that high levels of Vitamin D are protective against contracting COVID-19, regardless of age, sex, race, or latitude.

One of the published studies (1) shows the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 NAAT positivity rates and circulating 25(OH)D levels in the total population (see graph below). The inverse relationship between plasma vitamin D3 levels and SARS-Cov-2 positivity is highly significant and clear. The higher the level of 24(OH)D, the lower the risk of testing positive for Covid-19.  At a vitamin D level of 50-60 ng/mL, the curve flattened. 

 

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image: doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239252.g001

Vitamin D3 Recommend Dosage For People at Risk for the Flu and/or COVID-19  

Although individuals should consult with a licensed medical practitioner, the recommended dosages for Vitamin D3 supplementation were indicated in another recent study. Researchers recommend that people at risk for the flu and/or COVID-19 take 10,000 IU/day vitamin D3 as a loading dose to rapidly raise vitamin D levels, then maintain with 5,000 IU/day vitamin D3. Overall, target blood levels for 25(OH)D were aimed to be above 40-60 ng/ml.

Inverse Relationship Between Vitamin D Levels And COVID Deaths

An Indonesian study of 780 confirmed positive COVID cases shows how death was inversely related to higher Vitamin D levels. The graph below indicates that the majority of the COVID-19 cases with insufficient and deficient Vitamin D status died.  95% of the COVID-19 cases with sufficient or greater Vitamin D status lived.  The odds of death were higher in older and male cases with pre-existing conditions and below normal Vitamin D levels

Chart, line chart Description automatically generated

Key New Research Positions Vitamin D As Important Beyond Bone Health

Overall, experts confirm that Vitamin D has important roles beyond its well-understood function in bone health. Its role in the innate and adaptive immune response with anti-microbial function, its correlation to decreased autoimmunity, and reduced susceptibility to infection have become clearer with updated research (4).  This new information certainly positions  Vitamin D as one of the most beneficial nutrients to consider adding to your daily vitamin intake.

Vitamin D Supplementation Is Not A Silver Bullet Quick-Fix Against Viral Threats

A key fact to bear in mind is that vitamin D supplementation is not a silver bullet quick-fix to protect us against viruses.  The best approach is an integrative, comprehensive effort including specific nutrients like vitamin D used therapeutically in conjunction with other foundational health-supporting tools for whole-body support, with a targeted focus on supporting gut health.

Where does gut health come into play with vitamin D and immune support?

Surprisingly, research indicates that the majority of our immune system (70 +) is based in our digestive system (5). This is the first place we should be looking to boost resilience and enlist preventative measures against illness and for creating overall health. 

Vitamin D Gut Health Benefits

Vitamin D helps to rebuild the gut lining on a cellular level and helps to increase the integrity of the intestinal barrier, reducing problems with leaky gut. Additionally, it also promotes the interplay between the gut’s microbiome, intestinal epithelial cells, and immune cells, helping to regulate the immune response of the intestines.

Aside from vitamin D supplementation, boosting gut health can be done by substituting allergenic, inflammatory, and processed foods with whole, nutrient-dense, plant-rich foods, addressing hidden infections, and reducing toxins and chemical exposures (3). These are all ways to collectively support not only our digestive systems, mood, and mental health, but our immune systems and overall resiliency.  

Getting a grip on stress by implementing stress reduction practices is essential as well. Stress negatively impacts not only digestion and gut health, but total body health and our immune function directly. 

A Healthy Lifestyle Is the Best Preventative Medicine 

 It’s never too late to adopt various dietary and lifestyle practices to give our body the tools it needs to stay healthy and protect us from harmful infections. 

 Additionally, targeted nutritional therapy is a powerful, accessible, and affordable solution to help create resilience. 

As research is showing, adequate vitamin D is essential for immune health, reduced risk of contracting COVID and COVID-related death. It is estimated that at least 41% of adults in the US are deficient in vitamin D. Many individuals are at a higher risk of deficiency such as those who are obese or have darker skin, or residents of specific geographic locations that do not get adequate sun. Since it is very difficult to meet the daily requirements for Vitamin D based on dietary sources alone,  it may be time to consider adding Vitamin D supplementation to your daily self-care regimen (2). 

 

The ideas and recommendations in this article are for informational purposes only. The contents are not intended to replace the advice of the reader’s own healthcare professional or physician. The treatments described in this article may have known and unknown side effects and health hazards. Each reader is solely responsible for his or her own healthcare choices and decisions. The author advises the reader to discuss these ideas with a healthcare professional or physician before trying them. The author does not accept any responsibility for any positive or adverse effects a person claims to experience, directly or indirectly, from the ideas and contents of this article.

References:

 1- “SARS-CoV-2 Positivity Rates Associated with Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels.” PLOS ONE, vol. 15, no. 9, Sept. 2020, p. e0239252. PLoS Journals, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0239252. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498100/pdf/pone.0239252.pdf

2- Parva, Naveen R., et al. “Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and Associated Risk Factors in the US Population (2011-2012).” Cureus, vol. 10, no. 6. PubMed Central, doi:10.7759/cureus.2741. Accessed 19 Nov. 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075634/

3- Rinninella, Emanuele, et al. “Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition.” Nutrients, vol. 11, no. 10, Oct. 2019. PubMed Central, doi:10.3390/nu11102393. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6835969/

4- Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” Journal of Investigative Medicine : The Official Publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, vol. 59, no. 6, Aug. 2011, pp. 881–86. PubMed Central, doi:10.231/JIM.0b013e31821b8755. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/#:~:text=Vitamin%20D%20can%20modulate%20the,an%20increased%20susceptibility%20to%20infection.

5- Vighi, G., et al. “Allergy and the Gastrointestinal System.” Clinical and Experimental Immunology, vol. 153, no. Suppl 1, Sept. 2008, pp. 3–6. PubMed Central, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/

6 - Prabowo Raharusuna*, Sadiah Priambada, Cahni Budiarti, Erdie Agung, Cipta Budi; Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D: An Indonesian Study. April 26, 2020. Preliminary unpublished results.  Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D An Indonesian Study.pdf

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