Despite the COVID-19 vaccine rollout picking up pace, you or your loved ones may still be waiting for yours. This means other COVID-19 prevention tactics are more important than ever. One such tactic that has been hotly debated is supplementing with vitamin D. The pandemic has created a perfect storm of vitamin D deficiency as we’ve been forced to stay inside. The lack of sunshine has led many to suggest that taking vitamin D may benefit coronavirus outcomes from the disease.
Why is vitamin D in the spotlight?
Experts claim that communities most likely to be vitamin D deficient are the same communities that are more likely to be affected by COVID-19. These groups include Hispanic, black and other minority groups. While this may seem a mere correlation as opposed to a cause, doctors have consistently found vitamin D deficiency in COVID-19 patients, particularly those who have poorer outcomes.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. That’s because we make vitamin D when the sun hits our skin. We can also get vitamin D from foods such as eggs and mushrooms. It has long been known that vitamin D supports healthy bones, teeth and muscles and a deficiency is the cause of conditions like rickets. Less well understood is vitamin D’s role in immune function, although it is thought the vitamin helps regulate our body’s defence system and is also anti-inflammatory, which is why scientists believe it has a role to play in our fight against COVID-19.
Does vitamin D prevent coronavirus?
The answer is: we don’t know. We do know that vitamin D supplementation has been shown to reduce the risk of respiratory tract infections. However, no large-scale studies have conclusively shown vitamin D’s effect on COVID-19. A study published in JAMA showed that people who were deficient in vitamin D were more likely to test positive for COVID-19. Furthermore, a study in Spain gave 50 COVID-19 patients vitamin D while another 26 patients went without. Of the 50 patients who received vitamin D only one was admitted to the intensive care unit, and they were later discharged. Yet, of the 26 who didn’t receive vitamin D, 50% were admitted to the ICU, and two later died. These numbers are too small to draw any far-reaching conclusions however they suggest vitamin D may be efficacious in the prevention of COVID-19.
How much vitamin D should I take?
Vitamin D supplementation is considered safe and beneficial, especially because of its role in healthy bones, teeth and muscles. So in the round, taking a vitamin D supplement won’t do you any harm. But as with any supplement, there are guidelines for how much you should take. Adults should aim to take 4,000 IU (international units) per day and children no more than 2,000 IU. You should also endeavor to adhere to broader coronavirus prevention techniques and get your vaccine shot when notified.
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