I have seen several articles over the past month about vitamin D3 (VD3) and COVID-19. Some say it helps to reduce the effects of the disease – you might get a less severe case. Others say it is worthless. Why would vitamin D3 (the sunshine vitamin) not support our bodies against COVID-19 as it does with so many other diseases?
Some researchers will not endorse any regimen unless it has been studied forever with blind tests and other conditions. I understand their skepticism and reluctance to put their professional opinion on the line. Does VD3 help you fight COVID-19? If it does, what is the recommended dosage, and how often?
I reviewed over a dozen articles prior to writing on this topic. Many suggest a correlation between the results of high or low VD3 levels and the resultant COVID-19 infection and death rates. Correlation is not causation. Just because it correlates well does not mean that it causes something to happen or not happen.
When one thing is perfectly in alignment with another, the correlation value is 1.0. For example, the number of dollars spent on science, space, and technology has a correlation value of .998 when compared to the suicides by hanging, strangulation, and suffocation. The divorce rate in Maine compared to the per capita consumption of cheese is correlated as .993. The total revenue generated by arcades has a .985 with computer science doctorates awarded in the United States.
However, sometimes there is a correlation between items – may be the levels of VD3 in the body and the severity or death rate of COVID-19. Again, one does not cause the other, but there may be something in play to investigate further.
Northwestern University analyzed data from hospitals and clinics in China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The study showed that patients with high COVID-19 mortality rates had lower levels of VD3.
Obviously, there are other factors that must be reviewed to make a positive statement regarding VD3 levels and mortality rates. Countries have different levels of healthcare quality, demographics, testing resources, and the timing of the COVID-19 virus as it mutates.
As you go into the details of the patients in different countries and how the COVID-19 disease attacks the body, there were some significantly strong levels of correlation between VD3 levels and death rates. VD3 modulates our immune system. As such, it acts as a buffer when the COVID-19 virus causes a cytokine storm from an overactive immune system. This overreaction increases the risk and likelihood of respiratory distress and death.
VD3 prevents the immune system from becoming overactive in the first place. Complications from COVDI-19 do not destroy the lungs, but it complicates the response of the body (our immune system) from assisting in interfering with our recovery. Northwestern University’s assessment declared that D3 might impact the mortality rate by 50%.
VD3 will not prevent you from contracting COVID-19, but it appears to reduce the level of intensity of the virus. Children do not have fully formed immune systems. This is one reason why some children seem to be more at risk. The study also warned about taking excessive doses of VD3 to fight COVID-19.
What is excessive? I have been studying VD3 for several years. I find it interesting that VD3 impacts many areas of our health not just COVID-19. In 2009, the New England Journal of Medicine reported a 45% mortality rate in VD3 deficient ICU patients compared to a 16% mortality rate in VD3 sufficient patients. A follow-up study in 2015 showed similar results. VD3 deficient patients had a death rate of 32.2% compared to 13.2% in VD3 sufficient patients.
The study noted that the patients had to have higher levels of VD3 prior to entering the ICU. Adding VD3 once they arrived in the hospital had no effect. Strokes showed similar results. 40% of stroke victims have moderate to severe debilitation and 15% die within months. Stroke victims with lower levels of VD3 had twice the functional debilitation of those stroke patients with VD3 sufficient levels.
Most authorities set the minimum level of VD3 at 20 ng/mL based on a 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test. That minimum level was raised several years ago to 30 ng/mL, but it seems that not many people are aware of the increased lower level for VD3 in the body. Life Extension magazine has many more examples like the New England Journal of Medicine that shows a wide breadth of health improvements based on VD3 levels in the body. They recommend a minimum level of 50 ng/mL to a maximum of 80 ng/mL unless you have cancer or similar health risk.
On a personal note, I get my VD3 levels checked every year. I have for decades. I started out below 40 ng/mL and took increasing doses of VD3 until I kept my VD3 at or around 70-80 ng/mL.
One reason why the elderly is at higher risk of death from COVID-19 is that traditionally they have very low levels of VD3 – severely low in Spain, Italy, and Switzerland according to the WHO (World Health Organization). The WHO advises VD3 supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV2 infection.
VD3 deficiencies are found more at the normal latitudes where the availability of sunlight is less. A recent study in the Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics shows that COVID-19 is more epidemic in countries above 35 degrees north latitude compared to countries closer to the equator. The research journal Nutrients recommends doses of VD3 at 10,000 IUs daily. Most health authorities recommend 400-600 IUs daily.
From my personal experience, doses under 1000 IUs daily will not get your body’s VD3 levels over the minimum recommended level. I find it interesting that doctors and researchers warn against ‘high’ doses of VD3 because of the side effects. From my research the daily dosage would have to exceed 60,000 IUs to warrant even the slightest side effects. Who is right?
My body absorbs about 1000 IUs a minute from sunlight. I cannot stay in the sun for more than twenty minutes without risking sunburn. As a redhead, I have had more than a few of those in my life. I take 15,000 IUs daily in the summer and 20,000 IUs a day in the winter. It keeps my body’s VD3 level just under 80 ng/mL.
A meta-analysis is an examination of data from many studies on the same subject. A 2017 meta-analysis of 11,321 patients in 25 randomized controlled trials showed VD3 supplementation protected against acute respiratory tract infection with patients with very low VD3 levels.
There are eight clinical trials evaluating VD3’s role in preventing or easing COVID-19.
We know that COVID-19 uses the ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) as a pathway into our bodies. VD3 reduces the inflammatory response of SARS-CoV-2 by disrupting or deregulating this pathway.
Talk to your physician about getting a VD3 test on your next physical. VD3 supports our health in many ways. Being prepared is always the best position when it comes to your health.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – https://RedOLaughlin.com