While the world waits for a definitive treatment, cure, or vaccine for COVID-19, studies have shown a significant correlation between a low level of vitamin D in the blood and a greater risk of infection.
The findings reveal a need for more robust data to determine whether vitamin D can prevent the disease or be used as an adjunct therapy.
Pending conclusive evidence on vitamin D’s effects on COVID-19, doctors are stressing the importance of people having their levels checked to ensure they have an adequate level of the nutrient.
Dr. Kecia Gaither told The Epoch Times in an email that she screens her patients’ vitamin D levels. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, in particular, may not have enough vitamin D. And it’s even more important now because “patients with adequate vitamin D levels have been found to have lesser morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 than those that were deficient,” Gaither wrote.
“Along with vitamin D supplementation, adequate sunshine exposure is needed, particularly if melanated [darker skinned], because vitamin D is made in the skin,” Gaither said. “Melanin inhibits vitamin D production in the skin.”
Melanin is a skin pigment that makes the skin, eyes, and hair darker. Black Americans are in a high-risk group for having low vitamin D levels because, while their darker skin can protect them against skin cancer, it also reduces the production of vitamin D. Black people have been found to have a higher COVID-19 death rate.
Symptoms and DosageSymptoms of vitamin D deficiency may include osteoporosis or bone thinning and weakness, bone and muscle pain, depression, fatigue, and frequent infections or illnesses.
To treat vitamin D deficiency, exposing skin to direct sunlight for 15–30 minutes, avoiding sunburns, along with incorporating foods such as salmon, white mushrooms, and cod liver oil may be enough for some people to reach adequate vitamin D levels. For others, a vitamin D supplement is recommended through their physician.
Dr. Abe Malkin wrote in an email to The Epoch Times that generally, a “safe daily supplement dose would be 2,000 IU [international units] daily, but for those who are more deficient, they can take up to 5,000 IU daily.” Malkin, who is the founder and medical director at Concierge MD LA, says zinc and vitamin C supplements should be taken at the same time “to help bolster the immune system.”
Although rare, vitamin D toxicity may occur when too much of the nutrient is consumed, typically in the form of supplements, and for a long time. This causes excessive calcium in the blood as vitamin D assists the body in absorbing and regulating calcium, causing symptoms of “nausea, vomiting, weakness, kidney issues, and bone pain,” according to Gaither.
Conflicting Messages From Recent StudiesAn observational study that examined the levels of vitamin D in 7,807 people who were tested for COVID-19 in Israel, found that the average plasma vitamin D level was remarkably lower among the 782 who tested positive compared to the 7,025 negatives, showing an independent association between low blood levels of vitamin D and the occurrence and severity of COVID-19. The circulating form of vitamin D in the body is called 25(OH)D, which is tested to determine vitamin D deficiency or toxicity.
Not Waiting for Results
In certain countries, governments or medical institutions have begun recommending that citizens consider taking vitamin D supplements and getting sun exposure.
Dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Association, so they don't need to meet the same strict requirements as medications. To know if you're purchasing a quality supplement, check for a "third-party tested" label on the bottle as well as a USP verification, and choose brands with a good reputation.
It's best to consult with your physician to ensure you're taking the right amount.