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Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a search for dietary supplements that help build the immune system. Vitamin D was one that many swore worked to fight against COVID-19 even after scientists stated the evidence was inconclusive.
A recent study at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine determined that increased dosages of ‘the sunshine vitamin’ reduces the risk of being infected with COVID-19, reports the Good New Network on March 21, 2021.
Eating salmon, meat, egg yolks, shrimp, or taking supplements will provide the body with vitamin D. Spending time in the sun will also prompt the body to produce the vitamin naturally. However, the greater the melanin in a person’s skin, the lesser the body’s ability to synthesize the nutrient.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient and is often called the sunshine vitamin because the human body synthesizes it when a person spends time in the sun. With its immune-building properties, it is easier for the body to fight off viruses such as COVID.
David O. Meltzer, MD, Ph.D., chief of hospital medicine, explains that nearly half of Americans are Vitamin D deficient. More than three-quarters of people with darker skin have low levels of the nutrient.
The doctor was inspired to delve into the data on COVID-19 cases. He had read an article published a year ago that discussed that taking vitamin D supplements exhibited lower viral respiratory infection rates.
Meltzer’s study examined over 3,000 patients in Chicago whose vitamin D levels were measured within two weeks of a COVID test.
A “sufficient” level of the nutrient is usually at least 30 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter), “but Black participants with that level of vitamin D were more than two and a half times greater risk of catching COVID-19 than those with 40 ng/ml or more.”
At 30 ng/ml, they had a 7.2 percent chance of testing positive for COVID-19. That is 2.64 times than the general populace.
Earlier Vitamin D and COVID-19 Studies
The results published in the JAMA Network Open, a monthly open-access medical journal published by the American Medical Association, build on a previous study that suggests less than 20 ng/ml of vitamin D raises the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.
In October 2020, Healthline posted news about a different study that discovered vitamin D deficiency in 82.2 percent of COVID-19 patients. The research was published in the Journal Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, wherein the scientists report their findings. Additionally, they discovered men had lower vitamin D levels than women.
Medscape News in the U.K. reports there is not enough conclusive evidence of the correlation between vitamin D and COVID-19 to support recommending using the nutrient to prevent or treat the virus. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concludes further studies need to be done before suggesting people take vitamin D to ward off COVID-19.
Dr. Meltzer’s Conclusion About Vitamin D, COVID-19, and the Black Population
Dr. Meltzer concludes that his findings and the aforementioned studies support the “arguments for designing clinical trials that can test whether or not vitamin D may be a viable intervention to lower the risk of the disease, especially in person’s of color.”
One of the challenges of the current study, according to the doctor, is the difficulty in determining exactly how much vitamin D is needed to support immune function.
He added, the study he led is observational. They could see a relationship between vitamin D levels and the probability of a COVID-19 diagnosis.
The doctor conceded they do not know exactly why the relationship exists. The results may be directly related to the vitamin itself or other related biological determinants.
Excited about the new evidence, researchers have started two studies to discover if taking vitamin D daily can help prevent COVID-19 or decrease the severity of the virus’s symptoms.
How Much Vitamin D Is Recommended?
The National Academy of Medicine states it is safe for most people to take up to 4,000 IUs a day. But the current recommended adult daily allowance for vitamin D is 600-800 IUs a day (15-20 micrograms). As an example, one salmon fillet is equivalent to about 10 micrograms.
The FDA recommends a person consult a medical professional to determine the correct dosage before adding vitamin D or any other supplement to their daily health regimen.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Good News Network: Vitamin D Supplements Protect Black Population Against COVID-19, According to New Research
Healthline: New Study Found 80% of COVID-19 Patients Were Vitamin D Deficient; Fact checked by Dana K. Cassell
Healthline: The Benefits of Vitamin D; Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
Medscape: ‘Not Enough Evidence’ to Recommend Vitamin D for COVID-19 Treatment; by Peter Russell
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Laura Dahl’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of LookAfterYourself’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License