The latest research on vitamin D is in...
so should you be on it?
Vitamin D has long been associated with bone health as calcium can only be absorbed into your bones in the presence of vitamin D. It is also now often linked to healthy immune response and particularly as an protective factor against viruses and URTIs (Upper respiratory tract infections, the cold and flu.
Our bodies make vitamin D when direct sunlight converts a chemical in our skin into an active form of the vitamin (calciferol). However, Vitamin D isn't found in many foods, but you can get it from fortified milk, fortified cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
When the longer nights of winter set in, many people choose to make up for the lack of exposure to the sun, and the challenge of getting enough through the diet, by supplementing. Vitamin D supplements are some of the most popular and widely used and inexpensive vitamins.
Their use and effectiveness is so widespread and established that some organizations are researching the effect of vitamin D on a variety of viral infections and most recently on their effect on severe symptoms of the global pandemic.
The first randomized controlled trial on vitamin D in a pandemic setting has been published. The study was undertaken on a small group of hospitalized patients in Spain and many observers believe the the results are eye-opening.
They indicated that taking vitamin D virtually eliminated the risk of ICU admission. (In admittedly very high doses.)
The full text of the study is here but this is a digestible summary of the research:
- In Spain, 76 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia were randomized into two groups.
- Fifty received vitamin D supplements; 26 did not.
- The doses were roughly equivalent to ~30,000 IU/day for the first week, and 7,600 IU/day until discharge, ICU admission, or death.
- In the control group (that wasn’t taking vitamin D), 50 percent required ICU admission, whereas in the vitamin D group, only 2 percent were admitted to the ICU.
- In the control group, there were two deaths. In the vitamin D group, there were no deaths.
The researchers believe that the findings for ICU admission were highly statistically significant, which means the likelihood that there is a direct and causal relationship between vitamin D and a reduced risk of ICU admission are high.
The findings for deaths were not statistically significant, because the number of deaths in the study was too small (thankfully). But ICU admissions were very low and deaths nearly non-existent under the vitamin D regime.
These findings will need to be replicated before we can get too carried away. But they suggest that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels should be a strong part of everyone’s health protocol.
So, what is an adequate level of vitamin D?
It is estimated that due to seasonal factors up to 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. According to the Mayo clinic “The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 600 IU (international Units) for ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years.
Of course, the only way to truly know how much you need to supplement is by having your levels tested. Vitamin D is regarded as “generally safe” and so many people take a single 1,000 IU capsule in the darker months, although many people take more.
The exact dose needed will vary depending on 1) how far below normal your levels are; 2) your body weight and health status; 3) status of nutritional cofactors like magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2, vitamin C, etc.; 4) ethnicity and skin color; 5) gut health/nutrient absorption, and more.
Since many of these factors are not easily knowable, most people target a dose of ~1,000 to 2,000 IU/day. If their levels are low, and/or they are overweight or have other health conditions, they typically aim for the higher end.
A vitamin D protocol is a simple, affordable, low risk strategy for anyone everyone looking to support their health and be fit for fall.
Get yours here