Aug
15
2020

Vitamin D Helps Combat the Covid-19 Coronavirus

An article in the Lancet describes that vitamin D helps combat the Covid-19 coronavirus. A publication in the Lancet (diabetes and endocrinology) on Aug. 3, 2020 reviewed randomized controlled trials between 2007 and 2020. The authors of the study wanted to see whether vitamin D had curative effects on Covid-19 coronavirus infections. Indeed, Dr. Adrian R Martineau and Dr. Nita G Forouhi pointed out that researchers examined vitamin D already in the 1930’s. In other words, at that time they showed that supplementation with cod liver oil prevented absenteeism in various industries. Notably, the active ingredient in cod liver oil was later found to be vitamin D. Vitamin D stimulates the immune system to overcome flu infections.

How Vitamin D overcomes Covid-19

The meta-analysis by Dr. Adrian R Martineau and Dr. Nita G Forouhi showed that vitamin D has several effects on Covid-19. In the early stages vitamin D stimulates host responses of the immune system against SARS-CoV-2 (= Covid-19 coronavirus). This involves the release of antimicrobial peptides, which have powerful antiviral effects making it more difficult for the virus to attack. Other publications showed that vitamin D stimulates autophagy, the process of “self-eating”. Cells that have been damaged by the virus or due to older age are removed by phagocytizing cells (monocytes, macrophages). This allows for new cells to take the place of the damaged cells.

Symptoms of Covid-19 are similar to the symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency. Certain population groups are at a bigger risk, including older persons, obese individuals and persons Black ethnic or Asian ethnic background.  Several studies showed that supplementation with vitamin D3 became protective, preventative and therapeutic against Covid-19.

Vitamin D has specific effects

There are three major effects that vitamin D has.

  1. A strengthening of the epithelial barrier not allowing the coronavirus to penetrate into the lung tissue as easily.
  2. Release of defensins and cathelicidin, two crucial antiviral polypeptides that eradicate any virus in the system.
  3. Interruption of the “cytokine storm”, which is responsible for viral pneumonia to develop. Without the cytokine storm there is no damage to the lungs and people do not need treatment in the ICU. This is particularly important for people above the age of 60 and for people with pre-existing diseases.
  4. With the stabilizing effect of vitamin D regarding the immune function more severe forms of Covid-19 can turn into less severe forms with a better outcome.

Severe Covid-19 cases and vitamin D blood levels

There were two studies that have indicated that low vitamin D blood levels have a strong association with severe cases of Covid-19.  Extremely low vitamin D blood levels were found in severe Covid-19 cases in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. .

The authors concluded that any case of Covid-19 should receive adequate vitamin D3, but it is particularly important to the severe cases.

Two facts evolved from these studies: first, with low vitamin D blood levels there is a greater susceptibility to get Covid-19. Secondly, Covid-19 severity increases when the patient has low vitamin D blood levels.

What levels of vitamin D in the blood are required to fight Covid-19 coronavirus?

Vitamin D is very important for the integrity of the immune system. With  vitamin D blood levels below 15 to 20 ng/mL (37.5–50 nmol/L) there is a paralysis of the  immune system. Any viral or bacterial infection tends to overwhelm the body. This is the reason why the mortality due to Covid-19 coronavirus is highest in patients with these low vitamin D blood levels. People with secondary illnesses (diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer) and patients above the age of 60 are at the highest risk. They have the lowest vitamin D blood levels and have the highest mortality rates. This publication describes this in more detail: Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths.

Above a vitamin D blood level of 30 ng/mL (=75 nmol/L) a patient’s immune system is functioning normally. However, the immune system is strongest at a vitamin D blood level of 50–80 ng/mL (125–200 nmol/L), which is the upper range of the normal level for vitamin D in the blood.

Keep in mind that vitamin D toxicity occurs only above 150 ng/mL (375 nmol/L). There is a wide margin of safety between 80 ng/mL (200 nmol/L, which is the upper range of normal) and the toxic level, which is 150 ng/mL (375 nmol/L). In any case it is important to have a blood test which gives information about the vitamin D3 blood level.

Vitamin D Helps Combat the Covid-19 Coronavirus

Vitamin D Helps Combat the Covid-19 Coronavirus

Conclusion

A new publication in the Lancet (diabetes and endocrinology) performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials between 2007 and 2020. The authors found that a low blood level of vitamin D predicts that these patients are in trouble. They will have a severe form of Covid-19 when they get exposed to the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Patients with higher normal vitamin D blood levels (50–80 ng/mL or 125–200 nmol/L) get very few symptoms of Covid-19 and have a low mortality. The reason is that their immune system is strong and they wall off the coronavirus at the epithelial barriers. Their immune system also releases polypeptides that eradicate the virus in the system. In addition, the “cytokine storm”, which is responsible for viral pneumonia is interrupted by vitamin D. Without the cytokine storm there is no damage to the lungs and people do not need treatment in the ICU.

Supplementation with vitamin D3 is safe

It is safe to supplement with vitamin D3 to bring the blood level into the upper range of normal. This keeps the immune system at its optimal functional level. There is a wide margin of safety between 80 ng/mL (=200 nmol/L, which is the upper range of normal) and the toxic level, which is 150 ng/mL (375 nmol/L).

Part of the text was published here before.

 

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About Ray Schilling

Dr. Ray Schilling born in Tübingen, Germany and Graduated from Eberhard-Karls-University Medical School, Tuebingen in 1971. Once Post-doctoral cancer research position holder at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, is now a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).

Comments

  1. Helen Pappas says:

    Thank you Dr. Ray for this vital information, I am 59 and now take 5000 iu a day. I had a density test 6 months age and right hip was showing signs of osteoporosis and was recommended vitamin D and calcium. I first heard a similar study by Dr. Rhonda Patrick who was on the Joe Rogan podcast, this info has been invaluable. Thanks again and love: ask Dr. Ray!

    • Good for you. I would check vitamin D blood levels at least twice a year and adjust your vitamin D3 dose accordingly. A saliva progesterone level would also be good. If this is low, use a bioidentical progesterone cream once daily.