There is mounting evidence that people with low levels of Vitamin D face more serious complications and deaths if they contract COVID-19 than people with normal levels. While there hasn’t been enough time to complete the studies necessary to determine a causal effect, there is a definite association of low Vitamin D levels and more severe COVID-19 infections. In light of this, many doctors are recommending that their patients start taking Vitamin D supplements and get their levels checked as soon as they are able. This is good advice, especially for the most vulnerable, such as the elderly, overweight, disabled, diabetics, those with pulmonary conditions and people of color. There is no risk in taking vitamin D supplements in the recommended dosages and plenty of advantages for your health.
Most people are aware that vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium to build strong bones; however, Vitamin D is also vital in promoting optimal health. It is important in boosting the immune system to ward off infections, especially respiratory infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia and sinusitis. Having adequate levels of Vitamin D is also associated with improved wound healing. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with fatigue, tiredness and depression as well as bone loss and bone pain.
Unfortunately, low Vitamin D levels are very common in the United States today. In fact, 41.6% of adults in the U S are deficient. People of color are especially vulnerable as 69.2% of Hispanics and 82.1% of African Americans have Vitamin D deficiencies. This occurs because melanin inhibits sunlight from converting cholesterol in the skin to Vitamin D. Perhaps not coincidently, the groups with low Vitamin D levels are the same groups with the most severe COVID-19 disease and suffer the most deaths from the virus.
There are a number of ways to increase your Vitamin D levels:
- Expose your skin to sunlight for 20 to 30 minutes a day between 10am and 3pm
- Eat fortified dairy products, fatty fish, egg yolks and mushrooms
- Take Vitamin D supplements - The Institute of Medicine recommends that it is safe to take up to 4000 IU of Vitamin D per day, but don’t take more than that unless prescribed by a doctor because too much Vitamin D can be toxic
It’s a good idea to get your Vitamin D level checked to determine the correct dosage for you.