Conclusive: Vitamin D’s viral ‘protective effect’

During the height of COVID-19, there was a lot of research into the role of nutrition and supplementation in helping the body defend itself.

At least one team of international physician-researchers emphasized the role of good nutrition in shoring up the immune system.

They recommended getting the following nutrients every day, whether through diet or supplementation:

  • Vitamin C, which helps immune cells grow and plays an important role in antibody production.
  • Vitamin D, which helps regulate the immune system and may cut the risk of developing a respiratory infection by nearly half.
  • Zinc, which has proven antiviral properties.
  • DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that helps prevent disease by reducing inflammation and improving the function of B cells that produce antibodies.

Then there was the open letter from an international group of 120+ respected scientists and researchers that called on “all governments, doctors and health care workers — worldwide — to immediately recommend and implement efforts appropriate to their adult populations to increase vitamin D, at least until the end of the pandemic.”

Now that the worst of the pandemic appears to be behind us, you and a lot of other people may be wondering what was ultimately decided. Does vitamin D have exceptional clout or not?

Researchers in Italy took a conclusive look back at the vitamin that stole the spotlight during our darkest time, and here’s what they had to say…

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Vitamin D’s ‘protective effect’ stands out

The research team from Italy conducted a meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis (TSA) of five existing trials of vitamin D in COVID-19 patients. In other words, they did their homework…

A TSA is a method where scientists take what they gathered from a meta-analysis (the results of multiple studies), weigh any potential errors and estimate when the effect is large enough to be unaffected by further studies.

They confirmed a few things first:

  • Vitamin D was already shown to protect against respiratory issues prior to the pandemic.
  • Various studies conducted before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic showed that patients who received vitamin D supplements had a lower risk of acute respiratory infections and a shorter duration of symptoms. This was true among patients taking between 400 and 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily for up to a year.

Then they reinforced a definite correlation between taking vitamin D supplements and less severe outcomes for COVID patients…

  • Recent data have suggested a protective role of vitamin D in COVID-19-related health outcomes.
  • Vitamin D administration results in a decreased risk of death and ICU admission.
  • The TSA of the protective role of vitamin D and ICU admission showed that, since the pooling of the studies reached a definite sample size, the positive association is conclusive.

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No official support — yet

With all this mounting evidence, you would think government health agencies would finally get off the fence and start advising the use of vitamin D as part of a COVID-19 mitigation strategy.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The most recent statement from the U.S. National Institutes of Health insists there’s still insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

It’s a mystery why they’re dragging their feet on this. But what is clear is that keeping your vitamin D levels up is something you don’t need a government agency to sanction.

It’s not easy to maintain optimal vitamin D levels. We often don’t get enough sun exposure for the body to make its own vitamin D. And it can be even harder to produce and maintain vitamin D if you have a health condition like chronic kidney or liver disease, obesity, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease or osteoporosis, among others.

If you supplement, make sure you’re getting vitamin D3. Research published in 2022 in Frontiers of Immunology found key differences in vitamin D3 and D2

According to Professor Susan Lanham-New, co-author of that study, “We have shown that vitamin D3 appears to stimulate the type I interferon signaling system in the body — a key part of the immune system that provides a first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. Thus, a healthy vitamin D3 status may help prevent viruses and bacteria from gaining a foothold in the body.”

She went on to add that D2 did not have the same effect and that D3 should be the favored form for fortified foods and supplements.

Also, when supplementing be sure to follow serving recommendations.

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New study finds vitamin D lowers risk of death among Covid patients – ‘protective effect’ — Express

Protective Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on COVID-19-Related Intensive Care Hospitalization and Mortality: Definitive Evidence from Meta-Analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis — Pharmaceuticals

COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines: Vitamin D — National Institutes of Health

Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.