Vitamin D to Prevent “Bad” Covid-19?
As a physician at Whole Family Medical Care, I like to keep up with the latest science. A couple of interesting studies are showing that patients who have gone on to the ICU with Covid 19 often have lower than normal levels of vitamin D. Some studies show that taking vitamin D when you are diagnosed with Covid 19 might help, but it seems to work the best if your levels are normal before you get infected. I have a patient in her late 70s who we started on vitamin D a few years ago. She got covid 19–but only had the stomach symptoms with some head cold symptoms. And she was a smoker!
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with lower levels of immune system function and increased risk of autoimmune diseases. There are receptors on the T and B cells in your immune system for the vitamin D to attach to. Presumably, the vitamin D helps those cells function at their best.
You probably recall from school that your body “makes” vitamin D from sunlight. It actually uses this reaction to convert vitamin D to an active form. Here in the northern part of the US, it is really hard to get enough sunlight this time of year. Luckily for us, we can get extra vitamin D in the proper form with supplements.
Until the pandemic is over, I would suggest that you take 1000 to 2000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. If you are a patient, and we haven’t measured your blood levels of vitamin D, we can also check that, as some people need more. You can get too much vitamin D, so don’t take more than that amount unless prescribed by your doctor. I recommend getting a brand that says “USP” on the label, because that means they have sent it to an outside lab that has verified that you are buying what is on the label. Vitamins and supplements are not very regulated in the US—as long as it it isn’t toxic, they really don’t have to prove what is in the bottle to sell it.
Hang in there, and stay safe!