Vitamin D – A Supporting Act In The Covid Fight?

Listening to Dr Rhona Patrick talking to Joe Rogan about vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients has been fascinating, there are a large number of studies discussing the notion that the more serious ‘version’ virus has been more prevalent in those who are vitamin D3 deficient.

The overriding argument is that Vitamin D3 may reduce susceptibility to the virus Rhonda refers to an article in the BMJ which talks about 25 randomised trials the data is from a pre-covid time where they are discussing whether vitamin D supplementation is effect in the prevention of acute respiratory tract infections. As a meta analysis paper it makes some interesting points and the peer review comments are very interesting.

Vitamin D is very different from others it is scientifically defined as a hormone not a vitamin, the kidneys produce it to control calcium levels in your body, which is why it is common to have a vitamin D deficiency when you have a calcium surplus.

Your liver is able to convert vitamin D from sunlight and there are a number of foods which are also rich in this beneficial hormone/vitamin. Sunlight in the summer is the perfect way to keep your vitamin D levels .

There are two forms of vitamin D in the diet:

  • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol): found in some mushrooms.
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol): found in oily fish, fish liver oil and egg yolks.

As it stands it is impossible to gain enough solely from food and the sun, so supplements are important in ensuring your levels are maintained. Taking data from the National Institute of Health they advise the following recommended daily allowances:

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0–12 months*400 IU
(10 mcg)
400 IU
(10 mcg)
1–13 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
14–18 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
19–50 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
51–70 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
>70 years800 IU
(20 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)
* Adequate Intake (AI) – https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

It has been argued that larger doses may risk of overdosing which can cause undesirable effects having said that this evidence is somewhat outdated and is mostly people who have taken high dose supplements for a long time it is not possible to overdose if you are absorbing it through sunlight alone. The meta analysis I mentioned earlier also suggests that a bolus dose is therapeutically much less effective than daily or weekly dosages which means that your body requires a regular dosage rather than just a “one off” or short course much like you would take antibiotics.

As a lay person I bow to greater knowledge and would say there isn’t enough evidence as to whether vitamin d would protect you from the coronavirus but one thing I will say I that it wouldn’t hurt to boost your immune system with some extra vitamins and minerals there are plenty of different options to suit a wide range of people. Take care and stay safe out there people.

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