We’re taking our health seriously in these uncertain times – and maintaining a healthy immune system may be the most important way to protect ourselves against Covid-19. Before all else, we need to eat healthy and stay active. After that, according to the experts, Vitamin D, the “Sunshine Vitamin”, can help.
Vitamin D: What is it?
Vitamin D is a substance naturally produced by our own bodies after exposure to sunlight. Our ability to absorb calcium depends on it – for strong bones, we need plenty of Vitamin D. Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin D regulates the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It protects against influenza and and is possibly a factor in protecting against Covid-19.
How much do I need?
Adults need 600 IU of Vitamin D each day, increasing to 800IU per day if you are over 70. Everyday Health says: “very few foods have enough Vitamin D to reach recommended daily intakes, and sunshine can be unreliable in certain climates. Men and women relying on sourcing Vitamin D through diet alone typically don’t exceed 288 IU a day on average.”
Have you had your Vitamin D level tested recently? It might shock you. Nearly half of people tested for it were deficient in a recent study. A “good” level of Vitamin D in lab testing is a serum concentration of 25 ng/ml. In your lab results, anything under 20 is considered low, and 35-55 ng/ml is considered optimal.
If you don’t know your Vitamin D level and want to make sure you are getting enough, should you take supplements? The NHS suggests taking 10 micrograms of Vitamin D a day, But getting vitamins from food is preferable for most of us.
What foods have Vitamin D?
If you don’t want to take a supplement, you can get Vitamin D from certain foods. Vitamin D is found in oily fish (like salmon and sardines), in red meat, liver, egg yolks, and foods that are fortified. If you are a vegetarian, you can find yogurt, oatmeal, and some cereals that are fortified with Vitamin D.
I’m pretty much a vegetarian, but I occasionally enjoy healthy fish like wild salmon. Try my Salmon Carpaccio and Ginger Glazed Salmon Recipes. And read my article: Benefits of Wild Salmon (and The Best Recipe).
The Vitamin D – Covid-19 Connection
Vitamin D keeps our immune systems at their best, and new studies find that not only does it keep your immune system healthy, it may protect against respiratory illnesses, possibly including Covid-19.
Researchers at Northwestern University have found that Covid-19 patients with Vitamin D deficiency are twice as likely to get more severely ill and to die. And the researchers also found that normal levels of Vitamin D have a beneficial effect on patient outcome.
According to Dr Vadim Blackman, “Vitamin D will not prevent a patient from contracting the virus but it may reduce complications and prevent death in those who are effected”. He continues: ““Our analysis shows that it might be as high as cutting the mortality rate in half,” Blackman said. “It will not prevent a patient from contracting the virus, but it may reduce complications and prevent death in those who are infected.”
As you might expect, numerous studies of Vitamin D and Covid-19 are underway. Here are a few of the most promising:
- A recent study cited by the NIH: “Vitamin D might induce antimicrobial peptides to reduce Covid-19 replication”.
More simply stated, it might keep the virus from multiplying in your body. And that’s a good thing.
- A study of older people showed that Vitamin D has protective effects from influenza. “…vitamin D has been shown to have protective effects and the researchers concluded that vitamin D appears to be a safe strategy to protect against acute respiratory infections. ”
- A former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Tom Frieden, proposed using Vitamin D to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in a recent news interview. He said: “Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infection, regulates cytokine production and can limit the risk of other viruses such as influenza. A respiratory infection can result in cytokine storms – a vicious cycle in which our inflammatory cells damage organs throughout the body – which increase mortality for those with COVID-19. Adequate Vitamin D may potentially provide some modest protection for vulnerable populations.”
Where do we go from here?
First and foremost, we continue to drink our Green Drink, eat a healthy diet, and stay active. Unhealthy habits and food deficiencies hurt your immune system and make it harder to fight off disease-causing bacteria, viruses and toxins. Getting tested for your Vitamin D level is a good idea, I’m doing that. And most important, stay calm, stay focused, and stay safe.