Months ago, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, we advised you to take vitamin D.
At the time, because COVID-19 was so new, there were no studies showing that vitamin D was effective against it. But vitamin D had a strong track record against the flu and other viral respiratory illnesses. Therefore, researchers believed it was likely to work against coronavirus as well.
New studies show they were right:
- Researchers in Indonesia looked at 780 COVID-19 cases. They found that 96% of patients who died lacked vitamin D. Whereas 93% of survivors had normal levels.
The researchers found that vitamin D deficient patients were about 10 times more likely to die. They concluded that “Vitamin D status is strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality.”
- A study published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research looked at coronavirus and vitamin D levels in 20 European countries. Researchers found that Italy and Spain have lower than average vitamin D levels. Both countries have high numbers of COVID-19 cases and higher death rates.
But northern European countries have higher vitamin D levels, fewer COVID-19 cases, and lower death rates.
People (seniors especially) in southern European countries tend to avoid the sun and more of them have darker skin. Both factors lower vitamin D levels. But Scandinavians have higher levels because they tend to have lighter skin and eat more vitamin D-rich fish products.
Dr. Lee Smith was an author on the study. He said he and his colleagues found a direct relationship “between average vitamin D levels and the number of COVID-19 cases.”
“Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections,” Dr. Smith said. “Older adults, the group most deficient in vitamin D, are also the ones most seriously affected by COVID-19.”
- A third study appeared in the online journal medRxiv. Researchers analyzed coronavirus data from 10 countries. They found that low vitamin D levels are associated with a dangerously overactive immune response.
COVID-19 causes lung damage by triggering an overly strong inflammatory response. Vitamin D helps keep coronavirus inflammation under control.
Best Ways to Get Vitamin D
The next time you have a checkup, ask to have your vitamin D level tested. It can be done with the same blood draw used for your other tests.
If your reading is less than 20 ng/mL, your level is too low.
To increase your vitamin D, get 15 minutes of sun a day with your arms and legs exposed. You can also take a quality vitamin D3 supplement. We recommend 5,000 IUs a day.
There has never been a more important time to make sure you’re getting enough of this crucial nutrient.
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