Latest science on Vitamin D and Covid-19

  • Fri, 11/20/2020 - 20:29
  • Latest science on Vitamin D and Covid-19
  • by IMI health

Vitamin D3 is scientifically proven to reduce the infection and impact of COVID-19. As studies across the globe continue to mount, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Vitamin D supplements reduce your risk of catching COVID-19, hospitalization, severe complications and even death from the virus.

In a recent study of 191,779 patients across 50 U.S states, researchers concluded: “Therefore, it is recommended that improving vitamin D status in the general population and in particular hospitalized patients has a potential benefit in reducing the severity of morbidities and mortality associated with acquiring COVID-19.”

This isn’t the first time Vitamin D has been recognised as a powerful immunity booster. Long before the pandemic, scientific studies have shown that Vitamin D significantly reduces the risk of respiratory infections, chronic lung infections and asthma attacks.

Do I have the optimal level of Vitamin D to combat COVID-19 and other respiratory conditions?

There’s a risk that you don’t. 72% of Hong Kongers aged 18-26 are Vitamin D-deficient. While blood levels above 30ng/mL is considered the optimal level (depending on multiple factors), young adults had an average level of 13ng/mL . This sub-optimal level adversely affects immune function and comorbidity risks.

Vitamin D-insufficiency and deficiency can affect anyone at any age. It’s a worldwide epidemic, according to a consensus statement from the 13th Workshop on Vitamin D. The studies show the elderly are the most deficient in Vitamin D3 and tend to experience more severe COVID-19 symptoms; this suggests the two facts are linked.

Why would I be Vitamin D-deficient?

Your body makes Vitamin D3 when sunlight hits your bare skin. Your skin absorbs rays in the invisible ultraviolet B (UVB) part of the light spectrum. Given most of us attend work or school during the day, or are indoors between 11-3pm, it’s no wonder so many people have sub-optimal levels of this vital nutrient.

Slathering sunscreen on your skin can also affect your Vitamin D level as it blocks UVB light. If you happen to be a sun lover, it is possible to achieve sufficient levels of Vitamin D3 to see you through the winter (you’ll need a blood level of over 60 ng/mL at the end of the sunny months), however, very few achieve this.

In the coming winter months – when you would need around 45 minutes of exposure to the sun on your arms, legs, face, and hands every second day – getting enough sunlight becomes even more challenging. This leaves you even more susceptible to viruses, flus and colds.

How do I increase my Vitamin D level?

Ideally, you would have more time with bare skin exposed to the sun, but this isn’t always achievable.

Some foods are good sources of Vitamin D3. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, and pharmaceutical-grade cod liver oil, for example, are excellent sources of Vitamin D3. Small amounts of vitamin D are also present in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

But, unless you consume an unusual amount of oily fish products, diet alone cannot provide the levels of Vitamin D your body needs for optimal health. Adults require daily supplementation of 2,000 - 5,000IU (the higher end if obesity is a challenge) for some months to effectively increase the blood level above 30ng/mL, which is when immune function is typically restored.

Our expert naturopaths recommend adults achieve healthy blood levels of 30-50ng/mL not only to protect against COVID-19 but a plethora of viruses and other conditions.

What are the best Vitamin D3 dosages?

Not all supplements are created equal. Vitamin D3-rich, pure and potent supplements are essential, now and always. Vitamin D3 supplements that are better absorbed by your body can help you to achieve an optimal level.

We usually recommend the following Vitamin D3 dosages:

Age Vitamin D3 Dosage Notes
Infants under 2 Daily doses of 600 – 800 IU. Both the United States and Canada mandate the fortification of infant formula with vitamin D: 40–100 IU/100 kcal in the United States and 40–80 IU/100 kcal in Canada, and the ranges are similar here.

Please note: if supplementing infants with extra vitamin D, take the amounts in formulas or dairy products into account. Over 1,500IU in infants is potentially harmful taken over longer periods.
2-13 year olds 1,000IU  Given on days there is no time in the sun. This can be taken daily through the winter months, and discontinued when children are playing outdoors and are having approx 20 minutes without sun-cream applied.
14 years to adulthood Initial loading: 2,000-3000 IU daily for one to two months.

Maintenance: 1,000IU daily
Don’t guess, test. Measure your blood levels to ensure you’re achieving 30-50ng/mL.

For teens and those that do sports in the sun, we recommend 2,000IU for 1 month. After that, switch to 1,000IU daily.

Overweight individuals will typically need higher initial doses i.e. 3,000IU for 2 months. Then, switch to 1,000 daily.