[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]People are talking, so let’s separate the myths from the facts.
A study on the Coronavirus and vitamin D was published in May in the Irish Medical Journal. The study concluded that there may be “a role for vitamin D in COVID-19.” Here’s why. Researchers gathered data from the World Health Organization to compare blood levels of vitamin D to rates of COVID-19 infection or death in various European countries.
People in Spain and Northern Italy tended to have lower vitamin D levels and higher COVID-19 infection rates. The situation was opposite in Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Those people had higher vitamin D levels and lower COVID-19 rates.
Overall, the association between low vitamin D and COVID-19 deaths was statistically signiﬁcant.
Does that mean vitamin D prevents COVID infections? No.
Does it mean vitamin D prevents COVID deaths? No.
That’s because this type of study can show associations but never prove causation. Still, lots of us are getting excited about the possibility that vitamin D might oﬀer some protection against COVID. There are lots of reasons this might make sense:
- Vitamin D receptors are located on T and B immune cells
- Vitamin D regulates the cytokine response to infections
- Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of acute upper respiratory infections
- Higher vitamin D levels reduce the risk of pneumonia
- Vitamin D reduces lung injury in mice by blocking pathways involved in COVID-19
We don’t have any randomized controlled trials of vitamin D for Coronavirus. That means we just don’t know for sure.
Until then, let’s follow guidelines for optimizing blood levels of vitamin D and consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
The ideal Vitamin D level, from age management research, appears to be 65ng/mL with a “normal” range of 30-100. A level less than 30 has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, depressed mood, decreased immunity and death from all cause mortality. It then becomes evident that knowing your Vitamin D level helps you plan to get your level over 50 which is recommended for prevention of lower bone density.
Checking your Vitamin D level can be done by having your physician order the test. Even better, you can order your own Vitamin D level from a direct access lab without having to go for an oﬃce visit. Here is a link to order your own Vitamin D level:
Since Vitamin D is “made” by exposure to sunlight, it is generally recommended to get 15 minutes of exposure to the sun each day. However, I have found that even people who spend a large amount of time outside will frequently have Vitamin D levels less than 30. The Recommended Daily Value of Vitamin D is listed at 800 International Units daily. However, most Vitamin D researchers recommend an intake of 4000 IU daily which requires Vitamin D supplementation. During the Covid 19 pandemic, the recommendation for Vitamin D supplementation is 5000 IU (125mcg) daily. You can ﬁnd Vitamin D almost anywhere and here is a link to my Fullscript Dispensary where you can ﬁnd pharmaceutical grade Vitamin D supplements.
There are also plenty of Vitamin D rich foods that can improve your levels. Here are the top seven:
- Salmon- Wild salmon contains 988 IU while farmed salmon provides 250 IU/100grams serving.
- Herring and sardines- Fresh herring at 216 IU/100 grams and pickled herring comes in at 112IU/100 gram serving.
- Cod Liver Oil- If you don’t like ﬁsh, this supplement serves a good dose of Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Omega-3 fatty acids. One teaspoon a day is enough as Cod Liver Oil is high in Vitamin A and too much can be toxic. So be careful, or just eat some of the other choices.
- Canned Tuna- This provides 268 IU of Vitamin D per 100 gram serving. There is concern that canned tuna contains methylmercury which can build up in your body and cause health problems. A better choice is light tuna. Considered a safe intake is 7 ounces of tuna per week. You also get Niacin and Vitamin K in your tuna.
- Whole Eggs- The white part contains the protein and the yolk provides the healthy fat, vitamins and minerals. Pasture raised chickens produce eggs with 3-4 times the Vitamin D with a typical egg providing 37 IU of Vitamin D. I consider eggs to be nature’s perfect food.
- Mushrooms- When exposed to UV light, mushrooms can synthesize Vitamin D just like us humans. There is a caveat though. Mushrooms make Vitamin D2 and animals make Vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 can raise blood levels but D3 does it better. However, wild mushrooms can provide up to 2300 IU per 100 gram serving. Commercial mushrooms are frequently grown in the dark (and sometimes “treated” to UV light) but provide only 130-450 IU per 100 gram serving.
Fortiﬁed foods- Some people just don’t like ﬁsh or are vegans devoid of exposure to animal sources of Vitamin D. However, there are foods fortiﬁed with Vitamin D even though they don’t make Vitamin D that is nature based.
- Cow’s Milk- Contains 115-130IU of Vitamin D per cup.
- Soy Milk- If you’re vegan, this provides 107-117IU per cup.
- Orange Juice- With or without vodka provides 100IU per cup. Oatmeal/Cereal- Provides 54-136IU per half cup.
In addition, Vitamin D is required for the absorption of Calcium to help maintain the integrity and health of your bones. During the growth spurt ages of 9-18, children need 3000mg of Calcium daily. This drops to 2500mg per day in adults. Generally, women over 30 should supplement their dietary calcium intake with 600mg per day, increasing that to 1200mg per day at age 50 to counteract the bone resorption that may occur with declining estrogen levels in menopause. The bone loss of osteoporosis can be prevented with Vitamin D and Calcium supplementation.
In summary, Vitamin D is important for a variety of reasons, but especially during this viral outbreak. Spending time in the sun can help but is not always possible for some. You can get Vitamin D from your diet but probably not enough to achieve an optimal Vitamin D level. Eating plenty of the foods listed as Vitamin D rich can help you toward that goal but at present, a 5000 IU supplement of Vitamin D is a good idea.
Laird E, Rhodes J, Kenny RA. Vitamin D and Inﬂammation: Potential Implications for
Severity of Covid-19. Irish Medical Journal. 2020;113(5):81.
http://imj.ie/vitamin-d-and-inﬂammation-potentia l-implica tions -f or-severity- of -cov id -1 9/ [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]