Vitamin D & Respiratory Infectious Diseases – Part II
Vitamin D Lowers Your Risk of a Positive COVID-19 Test
Vitamin D has also been linked to a lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19. This, the largest observational study20 to date, looked at data for 191,779 American patients who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 between March and June 2020 and had had their vitamin D tested sometime in the preceding 12 months.
Of those with a vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml (deficiency), 12.5% tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, compared to 8.1% of those who had a vitamin D level between 30 and 34 ng/ml (adequacy) and 5.9% of those who had an optimal vitamin D level of 55 ng/ml or higher. A safe level of Vitamin D would be between 5,000 and 7,000 IU daily.
“SARS-CoV-2 positivity is strongly and inversely associated with circulating 25(OH)D levels, a relationship that persists across latitudes, races/ethnicities, both sexes, and age ranges.”
How Vitamin D Impacts COVID-19
In June 2020, I launched an information campaign about vitamin D that included the release of a downloadable scientific report. This report, as well as a two-minute COVID risk quiz is available on StopCovidCold.com.
- Reducing the survival and replication of viruses
- Reducing inflammatory cytokine production
- Maintaining endothelial integrity — Endothelial dysfunction contributes to vascular inflammation and impaired blood clotting, two hallmarks of severe COVID-19
- Increasing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) concentrations, which prevents the virus from entering cells via the ACE2 receptor — ACE2 is downregulated by SARS-CoV-2 infection, and by increasing ACE2, you also avoid excessive accumulation of angiotensin II, a peptide hormone known to increase the severity of COVID-19
Vitamin D is also an important component of COVID-19 prevention and treatment for the fact that it:
October 31, 2020, my review paper “Evidence Regarding Vitamin D and Risk of COVID-19 and Its Severity,” co-written with William Grant, Ph.D., and Dr. Carol Wagner, both of whom are part of the Grassroots Health expert vitamin D panel, was also published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients. You can read the paper for free on the journal’s website.
As noted in that paper, dark skin colour, increased age, pre-existing chronic conditions and vitamin D deficiency are all features of severe COVID disease, and of these, vitamin D deficiency is the only factor that is readily and easily modifiable.
You may be able to reverse chronic disease, but that typically takes time. Optimizing your vitamin D, on the other hand, can be achieved in just a few weeks, thereby significantly lowering your risk of severe COVID-19.
In our paper, we review several of the mechanisms by which vitamin D can reduce your risk of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, including but not limited to the following:
- Boosts your overall immune function by modulating your innate and adaptive immune responses
- Reduces respiratory distress
- Improves overall lung function
- Helps produce surfactants in your lungs that aid in fluid clearance
- Lowers your risk of comorbidities associated with poor COVID-19 prognosis, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
COVID-19 Features Related to Vitamin D Status
Our paper also details several features of COVID-19 that suggest vitamin D deficiency is at play. For starters, SARS-CoV-2 emerged in the winter in the northern hemisphere, and as we moved into summer, positive tests, hospitalizations and death rates fell. So, generally, COVID-19 prevalence has been inversely correlated with solar UVB doses and vitamin D production, just like seasonal influenza.
Secondly, people with darker skin have higher COVID-19 case and death rates than Caucasians. Vitamin D is produced in your skin in response to sun exposure, but the darker your skin, the more sun exposure you need in order to maintain an optimal vitamin D level. As a result, vitamin D deficiency tends to be far higher among Blacks and dark-skinned Hispanics.
Thirdly, one of the lethal hallmarks of COVID-19 is the cytokine storm that can develop in severe cases, which manifests as hyperinflammation and tissue damage. Vitamin D is known to regulate inflammatory cytokine production, thereby lowering this risk. Lastly, vitamin D is an important regulator of your immune system, and dysregulation of the immune system is a hallmark of severe COVID-19.
Co-Nutrients Reduce Your Vitamin D Requirement
If you cannot get sufficient amounts of sun exposure to maintain a vitamin D blood level of 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) to 60 ng/mL (150 nmol/L), a vitamin D3 supplement is highly recommended. Just remember that the most important factor here is your blood level, not the dose, so before you start, get tested so you know your baseline. This will help you determine your ideal dose, as it can vary widely from person to person. A safe level of Vitamin D is between 5,000 to 7,000 IU daily.
Also remember that you can minimize your vitamin D requirement by making sure you’re also getting enough magnesium. Magnesium is required for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form and research has confirmed higher magnesium intake helps reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency by activating more of it.
A scientific review published in 2018 concluded that up to half of all Americans taking vitamin D supplements may not get significant benefit as the vitamin D simply gets stored in its inactive form, and the reason for this is because their magnesium levels are too low.
Research by Grassroots Health reveals taking supplemental magnesium can lower your vitamin D need by 146%. Vitamin K2 is another important cofactor, and taking both magnesium and vitamin K2 can lower your vitamin D requirement by as much as 244%.
Take Your Vitamin D With Magnesium and K2
As detailed in “Magnesium and K2 Optimize Your Vitamin D Supplementation,” it’s strongly recommended to take magnesium and K2 concomitant with oral vitamin D. Data from nearly 3,000 individuals reveal you need 244% more oral vitamin D if you’re not also taking magnesium and vitamin K2.
What this means in practical terms is that if you take all three supplements in combination, you need far less oral vitamin D in order to achieve a healthy vitamin D level.
Information taken from Dr Joseph Mercola
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