While painting at The Stables this weekend I was listening to my go to podcast – Joe Rogan. This episode with Dr Rhonda Patrick went into details of the research between COVID-19 and vitamin D.
Fascinating and compelling arguments have sent me down a rabbit hole of research. Could something as simple as supplements really help prevent the severity that this invisible enemy takes hold?
What is vitamin D?
It’s primary role is to aid the absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphate. Keeping your bones, teeth and muscles strong and healthy. It also plays a vital part in modulating cell growth, immune function and reduction of inflammation.
UV rays from the sun should provide us with the majority. A few food sources such as oily fish, fortified cereals, egg yolks and red meat also contain some dietary Vitamin D.
Are you getting enough sunlight?
If you live in the UK and don’t have the luxury of spending much of your summer months outside there’s is a strong chance you could deficient in vitamin D.
During the winter months between 30-40% of the UK population is though to be deficient. By the end of the summer months around 8% of adults and 13% of children are still thought to be deficient.
Considering anything under 25 nmol/L (nanomes per litre) is deficient, between 25-50 nmol/L is insufficient and 50-125 nmol/L is a sufficient level we can assume that a large percentage of the population also fall into the the “insufficient” category.
What are the links between COVID-19 and vitamin D?
A number of studies are being carried out to determine links between COVID-19 and vitamin D deficiencies.
With the at risk populations of severe cases and deaths from COVID-19 being the elderly, obese, diabetics and those with current underlying autoimmune diseases, scientist around the globe are coming to the conclusion that vitamin D deficiencies could be the link.
Research into why BAME (black and ethnic minorities) in the UK are being worst effected is also being carried out. Could this be also partly down to vitamin D deficiencies due to darker skin tones absorbing less UV rays than lighter skin tones?
While studies are so far small and in their early stages there is definitely a large number of academics all singing from the same hymn sheet on this one.
A small study from Louisiana State University in America found that out of 20 COVID-19 in-patients with vitamin D deficiencies, 65% ended up in ICU. 84.6% of ICU patients had vitamin D deficiencies compared to 57.1% of non-ICU COVID-19 admissions. Strikingly, 100% of the ICU patients under 75 years of age had vitamin D deficiencies.
How can vitamin D help fight against COVID-19?
Sufficient levels help the immune system work optimally. It’s job in the immune system is to help with the production of the little army of proteins sent out to seek and destroy bacteria, viruses and dead tissues in the body. Which in turn, helps provide the strong armour to make it harder for the enemy to get in. It trains your immune system army into recognising and kick out the bad eggs while support the team players. Lowering inflammation and setting you up to fight the battle.
A lack of vitamin D – especially when linked with obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other already inflammatory diseases makes it much easier for COVID-19 to take hold and cause mass destruction.
The School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin are working on getting their government guidelines changed to increase the daily recommend intake from 400 IU. Although some studies suggest that a higher daily intake of 1000–4000 IU (25–100 micrograms) is needed to maintain optimal blood levels. Public health bodies in the UK have recommended supplementation since the lockdown.
This is becoming a common theory for scientists and medical studies around the world. It definitely isn’t going to do any harm adding some D3 supplements to your diet.
It should also be noted that Vitamin D (along with vitamin A, E & K) is fat soluble, meaning it will only be absorbed into the system in the presence of dietary fats. Ensuring you’re eating healthy fats will make sure you are able to increase your vitamin D levels. These include things like, olive oils, coconut oil, avocados, full fat dairy, nuts, nut butters and milks, seed and legumes.
One company I recommend MyProtein when sourcing your vitamin D3 supplements. In no way affiliated with them – just love their products! They have a massive 2500IU/62.5mcg per serving and a years supply with set you back less than £12. Especially as they have a 30% off May sale on currently too!
I’ll certainly be nagging my loved ones to supplement with vitamin D from now on!