Vitamin D and Coronavirus

by May 28, 2020

If you’ve ever been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency, you have something in common with a billion other people worldwide.  Really, one other billion people (give or take.)

Your doctors have likely recommended supplements, a change in diet, and a healthy increase in sun exposure.  But if you’re like many of us, you’ll take those recommendations to heart for maybe a week or so.  Kind of like how you might floss for a day or two after your dentist tells horror stories about those who don’t floss.

However, now is a time when you really need to be on top of your health and listen to your doctor.  It’s common knowledge that vitamin D deficiency can damage your bone health, but it also plays a large role in your immunity.  If you’re over the age of sixty-five, it’s especially important to stabilize your vitamin D levels.  Social restrictions are loosening up, but it will be some time before Covid-19 is under control.  While we’re easing back into our new normal, let’s talk about a recent news topic: Vitamin D and Coronavirus.

Link Between Vitamin D and Survival Rate

A recent study analyzed patient data from ten different countries; Germany, South Korea, China, Switzerland, Iran, United Kingdom, United States, France, Spain, and Italy.  Each country has a high number of confirmed Covid-19 patients, and global research suggests a correlation between deficiency in Vitamin D and Coronavirus mortality rates.

Italy, Spain, and the UK have very high Covid-19 mortality rates.  Patients from those countries had low vitamin D levels on average when compared to other countries.  Low levels of vitamin D are shown to be linked to a hyperinflammatory condition called a cytokine storm.

Cytokines are immune system proteins, and excessive amounts of them are caused by an overactive immune system.  A cytokine storm causes the body to attack its own cells and tissues, instead of just attacking the virus.  When the immune system overreacts in Covid-19 cases, most of the cell death is taking place in the lungs.  As lung tissue dies, the walls of the lungs’ air sacs fill with fluid and cause pneumonia.  Severely damaged lungs will then cause respiratory distress syndrome, which then causes the other organs to fail.

The findings could explain why children have such a low Covid-19 mortality rate.  Vitamin D, in addition to preventing an overactive immune system, enhances the innate immune system.  Children have fully developed innate immune systems, but their acquired immune systems are still developing.  The acquired immune system is the body’s second line of defense, and far more likely to overreact than the innate immune system.

Things to Consider

  • More research is needed before a solid conclusion can be drawn about vitamin D and Coronavirus mortality.
  • Don’t overdo your vitamin D intake and be careful with supplements.
    • It is possible to overdose on vitamin D.  Vitamin D toxicity can lead to hypercalcemia which causes vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination.  In more serious cases, it can lead to bone pain and kidney issues.

Vitamin D Sources

  • Fatty fish
  • Fortified foods (cereals, oatmeal, soy, orange juice)
  • Dairy products
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms

Stay safe, happy, and healthy!  Next time, we’ll talk about one of our main sources of vitamin D: healthy exposure to the sun.

 

Written by: Katrina Jenkins, LMT

Photo credit: Canva

 

Resources:

https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200417/cytokine-storms-may-be-fueling-some-covid-deaths

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.08.20058578v3

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200507121353.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/vitamin-d-toxicity/faq-20058108

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