Vitamin D May Help COVID-19 Patients

The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for months. When we started speaking about it, we didn’t even have a name for it. Scientists were just calling it a coronavirus, saying it was unlike other coronaviruses we’d seen. Now, after months of research, more is known about it, we have more understanding about how to help people.

And that means we are revisiting topics. In April, we wrote about why people might want to take vitamin D supplements during the pandemic. Vitamin D has many benefits, including boosting the immune system and fighting depression, both of which are especially key during this time. Our bodies create vitamin D from sunlight. Because of stay at home orders, many of us aren’t getting as much time outdoors as we usually do. That’s also true as we go into the cooler months when our clothes may cover more of our skin. Vitamin D supplements are still a good idea for those reasons, and you might want to add them to your routine. But, you should always speak to your doctor before making any changes to your habits.

Now, doctors are telling us another reason to add vitamin D to our supplement regimen. But, doctors have strongly urged against over-medicating yourself with vitamin D. It is possible to take too much and cause bone or organ damage. However, making sure your levels are healthy may protect you against contracting COVID-19.

Some doctors have wondered if a deficiency in vitamin D could raise your risk of dying from COVID-19. Part of the reason they wondered was because people with darker skin are dying at higher rates than pale people. Dark skin needs more sunlight to produce vitamin D, and people of color are more frequently vitamin D deficient than white people. One study found that people with untreated vitamin D deficiencies were 77 percent more likely to test positively for COVID-19.

In a small study, hospitalized patients were given vitamin D or just given standard care. The patients who received the vitamin had better outcomes than the other group. Only one of the patients taking the vitamin had to go into the intensive care unit.

Our pilot study demonstrated that administration of [vitamin D] may improve the clinical outcome of subjects requiring hospitalization for COVID-19,” said the doctors in a statement. “Whether that would also apply to patients with an earlier stage of the disease and whether baseline vitamin D status modifies these results is unknown.”

The research is worth exploring more and is a tool doctors in hospitals should have at their disposal.  The doctors in the study didn’t measure people’s levels of vitamin D before giving them supplements. They also didn’t separate patients by how ill they were or screen them for preexisting conditions.

We do not suggest anyone start popping vitamin D like it’s nothing. Because of the risk excess vitamin D can pose to your health, speak to your doctor. If you have had blood work done recently, your doctor may already be aware of your vitamin D levels. They can tell you if adding vitamin D could be beneficial to your overall health. Additionally, the vitamin has so many health benefits beyond your immune system. It might be something you should take as part of your everyday life long after the threat of COVID-19 has passed!
September 14, 2020
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