Amazing New Study on Vitamin D and Current Health Crisis
A newly published paper has raised the concern that “vitamin D deficiency may be a contributing factor to severe COVID-19.”
The research team led by Northwestern University and Boston Medical Center analyzed data from clinics and hospitals across China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. Using data from previous research done on the link between the inflammation marker C Reactive Protein (CRP), the researchers estimated the potential impact of vitamin D on the reduction of severe COVID-19.
Researchers found a reduction in the risk of severe COVID-19 of 15.6% for those with normal vitamin D levels compared to those with deficient levels.
Vitamin D may quench excess inflammation of the lungs
Several studies have investigated the relationship between C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body, and vitamin D deficiency. The more deficient a person is in vitamin D, the higher the risk of having an elevated level of CRP. High levels of CRP are associated with severe COVID-19.
The authors discuss a well-known problem with COVID-19, which is the overproduction of inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines. A healthy immune response includes the release of cytokines, but excess levels known as a cytokine storm can damage the lungs and lead to respiratory distress and death.
Vitamin D is unique in that it not only improves immune function, but it suppresses excess cytokine production. The authors note that the elderly are more susceptible to a cytokine storm and poor adaptation of the immune system.
Vitamin D Proven To Reduce Acute Respiratory Infections
Keep in mind that vitamin D supplementation has been shown in a large meta-analysis of 25 studies to be protective against acute respiratory tract infections.
All Too Common Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency is common in America and around the world. One large study found that insufficient vitamin D levels were found in 41.6% of those tested. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in African-American adults, followed by Hispanic adults.
Additional risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include age (more common people over the age of 65), smoking, and those overweight. Also, vitamin D deficiency has become more common in the younger population due to their increased likelihood of staying indoors and activities with gaming, computers, and television.
Natural Sources of vitamin D
The primary source of vitamin D is sunlight. Food sources such as fatty fish, vitamin D enriched milk, and some mushrooms are other sources.
Vitamin D Supplementation is Good Medicine
A blood test by your doctor can measure your vitamin D level. Most integrative doctors like to see a level of 50 nanograms per milliliter ng/mL. I find my typical patient requires 5000 IU daily to achieve a mid-range level of vitamin D. It is rare I find that this supplemental vitamin D amount causes an adult blood level to be too high. Parents may want to consider supplementing children with 2000 IU daily. Vitamin D should be taken with food since it is a fat-soluble vitamin.
One thing that the researchers of this study and other studies have not looked into is the risk of infections in people with sub-optimal vitamin D levels. In other words, a deficient vitamin D level is the most problematic; however, people with low normal levels may have a sub-optimal immune response as well.
Doctors around the country should be recommending vitamin D supplementation to patients, particularly those who are most susceptible to COVID-19 such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Since the medical world is so slow to respond to non-pharmaceutical treatments people have been supplementing vitamin D as a proactive measure for good immune system health.
References; Daneshkhah, A., Agrawal, V., Eshein, A., Subramanian, H., Roy, H., & Backman, V. (2020). The Possible Role of Vitamin D in Suppressing Cytokine Storm and Associated Mortality in COVID-19 Patients. Medrxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.08.20058578
Parva, N., Tadepalli, S., Singh, P., Qian, A., Joshi, R., & Kandala, H. et al. (2018). Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and Associated Risk Factors in the US Population (2011-2012). Cureus, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.2741