The Outbreak of COVID-19 has created a global health crisis and the world is anxiously awaiting a safe vaccine.
But until one is approved many people have been searching for natural supplements and vitamins to help boost their immune system, as well as following CDC guidelines for safety.
One such supplement is vitamin D.
The vitamin has gained national attention during the pandemic as research, including clinical trials, has investigated its effect on outcomes of those infected with the coronavirus.
Most recently, it was highlighted when it was revealed that in addition to President Trump’s COVID-19 treatment, which included an investigational cocktail of antibodies and Remdesivir, the president was also taking vitamin D regularly.
Earlier studies have revealed patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who had sufficient levels of vitamin D had fewer adverse clinical outcomes such as low blood levels, periods of unconsciousness, hypoxia and death. Additional clinical trials also reported vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of influenza.
Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D, and professor at Boston University School of Medicine recently published a study that revealed patients with a sufficient amount of vitamin D had fewer complications from being infected with COVID-19, influenza, and several other upper respiratory infections.
“This study provides direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency can reduce the complications, including the cytokine storm (release of too many proteins into the blood too quickly) and ultimately death from COVID-19.”
Vitamin D is frequently referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because your body produces the vitamin naturally when your skin is directly exposed to sunlight. Despite being readily available through sunlight, certain foods and supplements, many Americans are found deficient.
Why your body needs vitamin D
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as two-thirds of the U.S. population has sufficient levels of vitamin D.
However, according to the Kresser Institute for Functional and Evolutionary Medicine, 95 percent of adults have an inadequate vitamin D intake.
How do you know if you are lacking in vitamin D intake?
The best approach is to have your vitamin D level tested to find out if it is in the adequate range, according to Cynthia Sass, R.D, MPH, contributing nutrition editor for Health Magazine. She explains that a supplement may be needed to achieve the proper dose of supplemental vitamin D.
The Endocrine Society states, for example, to maintain serum 25(OH) levels above 75 nmol/L (30 ng/mL), adults might need at least 37.5 to 50mcg (1,500-2,000IU)/day of supplemental vitamin D, and children and adolescents might need at least 25mcg (1,000IU)/day.
Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body. It assists in the following:
- Supports the immune, brain and nervous system.
- Helps the body absorb calcium.
- Supports diabetes management and helps regulate levels of insulin.
- Can help manage depression outcomes.
- Reduces the risk of genes involved in developing cancer.
Symptoms and health risks associated with a deficiency
Symptoms of low vitamin D can be subtle, that’s why it’s important to have levels checked.
Low levels of the vitamin are associated with:
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
- Severe asthma in children
To boost low levels, Dr. Michael Cutler recommends 1,000 International Units (IU) daily or 5,000 IU twice weekly of vitamin D3 to boost and maintain your levels of this disease-fighting vitamin adequately.
But can you get too much D?
According to Dr. Anna Kazaryan, a rheumatologist at UCSF Fresno stated, “there is such thing as vitamin D toxicity.” It’s great when it’s at normal levels, but too much can cause a lot of problems.”
But vitamin D toxicity is rare — and you have to take an awful lot for that to happen. The Mayo Clinic states that taking 60,000 IU of vitamin D daily for several months has been shown to cause toxicity.
Some of the common symptoms of excessive vitamin D include:
- Dry mouth
As we go into the winter season with anticipated spikes in COVID-19 cases and the flu, your vitamin D status could be an important part of staying well.