by Matt Weik
Vitamin D is one of the most essential nutrients, and recent research has suggested that it may also help increase your defense against the COVID-19 virus.
According to Kristin Gustashaw, a clinical dietician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, a huge percentage of the population has low levels of vitamin D. As a matter of fact, half of the U.S population may suffer from vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency can lead to fatigue, hair loss, tiredness, decreased immunity, muscle pain, along with other symptoms.
The Link Between Vitamin D and COVID-19
According to recent research, there appears to be a correlation between a deficiency in vitamin D levels and a higher risk of COVID-19 cases. It was noted that most people who suffered from COVID-19 had not been exposed to enough sunshine to provide a natural source of vitamin D, nor did they have adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood.
Another study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that 216 COVID-19 patients in Spain were hospitalized after contracting the virus. Out of those patients, more than 80% were suffering from a vitamin D deficiency.
A quick background on vitamin D:
- Vitamin D is considered a steroidal hormone, and it may influence the immune response in COVID-19.
- Vitamin D enters our body through dietary consumption. It can also be synthesized by our skin from 7-dihydro-cholesterol (which is also known as provitamin D or cholecalciferol) after getting exposed to type B ultraviolet light.
- Due to your ability to increase vitamin D levels through being out in the sun, many consider it “the sunshine vitamin.”
The presence of VDR (vitamin D receptor) in activated T cells, as well as monocytes, suggested that vitamin D may play a significant role when it comes to our immunity.
It should be noted that the importance of vitamin D is nothing new, as it has been quite popular worldwide for its effectiveness in reducing risk factors for various chronic diseases, not only infectious ones (for example, Type 1 diabetes and autoimmune rheumatic diseases).
Vitamin D and Recovery from COVID-19
Besides the apparent correlation between the risk factor of COVID-19 and vitamin D levels, many people are now looking at how it may also protect people or help them recover from the deadly virus.
One effective approach would be to identify and treat vitamin D deficiency, especially in high-risk individuals such as patients with comorbidities, the elderly, and nursing home residents.
Vitamin D treatment is recommended to COVID-19 patients suffering from low vitamin D levels circulating in their blood. This approach might have positive effects on both the immunity and musculoskeletal system.
The Overall Importance of Vitamin D for Everyday Health
Getting away from the latest finding when it comes to COVID-19 and vitamin D deficiencies, we should also look at how the vitamin can influence your overall health.
For instance, vitamin D deficiency can increase hospitalization stays and the duration of how long patients are hospitalized in the over 60 population. In simpler terms, you have the ability to decrease your risk of illnesses as well as minimize potential hospital stays if you are able to manage your vitamin D levels and intake.
The human body manufactures vitamin D as a response to exposure to the sun. One can also boost their vitamin D intake by consuming certain foods and supplements.
Foods high in vitamin D include:
- Fatty Fish
- Whole Eggs
- *Fortified Foods
- Beef Liver
*such as milk, soy milk, orange juice, oatmeal, and cereals
Vitamin D is essential for many reasons and is a nutrient that our body cannot create all by itself, so individuals must consume them in their food intake, supplementation, or exposure to the sun.
Here are some of the benefits commonly associated with adequate levels of vitamin D
1. Helps Keep Bones Healthy
Vitamin D is essential when it comes to the regulation of calcium and maintaining levels of phosphorus in the blood. These factors are crucial for the maintenance of healthy bones.
2. May Reduce the Risk of Certain Diseases
According to 2018 research, vitamin D has protective properties effect against the influenza virus. Besides that, it also reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis and decreases the chance of getting heart diseases. It also reduces the possibility of getting the flu.
3. Can Reduce Seasonal Depression
According to studies, it was found that most depressed individuals had lower levels of vitamin D as compared to those with normal or elevated levels in their blood. Another piece of research showed that people suffering from depression, after receiving vitamin D supplements, noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
4. Supports Weight Loss
If you are trying to lose weight, it may be wise to add more foods high in vitamin D or even specific vitamin D supplements to your nutrition plan. Along with its bone-building functions, it has been found that those with adequate levels of vitamin D were better able to not only manage their weight but may also find it easier to lose weight.
Not Exactly a Hard Pill to Swallow
Overall, vitamin D is profusely important when it comes to your overall health. The recent studies showing the link between COVID-19 and vitamin D deficiency have definitely invoked a thought in the back of people’s minds. It is incredibly important to understand the overall benefits of vitamin D and the risks that may arise when you are deficient. Even if you follow a very strict nutrition plan, you may still need supplements to get optimal blood levels.
However, too much of a good thing is also harmful. Make sure to avoid excessive intake of Vitamin D. According to the research, those who live an extremely active lifestyle or who is an athlete could require dosages of vitamin D of around 5,000 IU to increase their levels and then a maintenance dosage to follow of about 2,000 IU per day.