Multiple studies show that Vitamin D may play an essential role in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 infections. Read on to learn all about it.
In This Article:
What You Need to Know About Vitamin D and COVID-19
Vitamin D Benefits
Vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin. It’s a hormone precursor.
Vitamins are nutrients that the body needs, but can’t create. The body can produce vitamin D, but it requires exposure to sunlight to trigger production.
This particular vitamin plays an essential role in an individual’s healthspan. Vitamin D helps maintain bone and tooth health.
On top of that, it also helps protect against certain diseases. A recent systematic meta-analysis review of 40 studies shows that vitamin D supplementation prevents respiratory infections.
Vitamin D Deficiency and COVID-19 Outcomes
One study from the University of Chicago links vitamin D status to COVID-19 outcomes. The researchers had the vitamin D status of 489 patients.
They measured the vitamin D levels of these patients one year before they were tested for COVID-19. Compared to individuals who had sufficient vitamin D levels, patients with a vitamin D deficiency were 1.77 times more likely to test positive for the coronavirus.
The researchers’ initial findings support the idea that vitamin D status may help reduce the COVID-19 risk. These researchers weren’t the only ones to find a link between COVID-19 and vitamin D.
Treating COVID-19 with Vitamin D
In a smaller clinical study from Spain, researchers tested the effects of treating 50 COVID-19 patients with high doses of calcifediol, a synthetic form of vitamin D.
Here are some of their findings:
- 26 patients were not given vitamin D. From these untreated patients, 13 of them (50%) needed intensive care unit (ICU) admission.
- From the 50 patients that were given vitamin D, only one required ICU admission (2%)
The researchers believe that these initial findings show that there may be a link between patients’ vitamin D levels and the severity of their COVID-19 illness.
Researchers from Italy share similar findings. COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU had lower levels of vitamin D compared to patients with milder symptoms. On top of that, patients who died from COVID-19 were more likely to have lower vitamin D levels.
Reducing COVID-19 Risk
Researchers need to gather more data and run clinical trials to determine if vitamin D really does reduce COVID-19 risk. But the initial results are promising.
Research shows that it may help regulate the body’s immune response to the infection. It helps keep the immune system from going into overdrive and triggering a cytokine storm.
What is a cytokine storm? This immune response occurs when the body releases high levels of cytokine proteins. However, instead of fighting the infection, the proteins begin attacking the body’s cells and tissues.
Cytokine storms often go hand-in-hand with severe COVID-19 illness. So researchers believe that vitamin D may help keep the immune system from using this highly inflammatory pathway to respond to the infection.
Vitamin D Supplementation
At this point, as the pandemic continues, many health experts believe that taking in an appropriate amount of vitamin D levels can’t hurt, and it may even help. It would be ideal to get them from natural sources in your diet, but supplements are also an excellent way to increase vitamin D levels.
The Endocrine Society recommends 1,500-2,000 International Units (IU) daily for adults. But it’s also helpful to have your doctor test your vitamin D levels, so you know the optimal level of supplementation.
If you want to avoid leaving your home just so you can talk to your doctor, you can try telemedicine. Telemedicine services like StreamMD allow you to connect with a variety of health specialists without leaving the comfort of your home.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving situation. As researchers continue to learn more about the virus, they’re also learning more about its treatment and measures that help reduce the risk of bad outcomes.
It’s important to note that taking Vitamin D supplements doesn’t replace other infection prevention measures like mask-wearing, social distancing, or hand-washing. But health experts believe that there’s little to lose and potentially a lot to gain by optimizing your vitamin D levels during this pandemic.
Would you take vitamin D supplements to reduce COVID-19 risk? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
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