By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
Perhaps you have read about the health benefits of vitamin D (vitamin D is also referred to as calciferol) supplementation and how it can improve bone mineral density and muscle function. Previous research is suggesting that vitamin D supplementation can improve your immune system and it may help to battle COVID-19.
While there have yet to be any randomized control trials (the gold standard method to test experimental outcomes of treatments) to evaluate the effectiveness of vitamin D on COVID-19, much of the research is observational or based on previous virus research and patient care.
Vitamin D is a powerful antiviral ingredient
Current research is suggesting that vitamin D may have the ability to act as a powerful antiviral ingredient that may serve as natural medicine. Research by Bilezikian et al. (2020) explained that vitamin D may be able to prevent the virus from entering healthy cells and vitamin D may be able to suppress viral replication if the virus enters the cell.
Another role of vitamin D is that it promotes autophagy. Autophagy is a vital cellular process that optimizes and maintains homeostasis, which is your body’s normal, healthy state of balance. Furthermore, as COVID targets the lungs, it appears that vitamin D can improve respiratory tract function and may be able to prevent respiratory tract infections when taken in large enough doses.
Research also has shown that vitamin D may improve cardiovascular health by elevating good cholesterol levels and optimizing vascular function. In a recent study investigating COVID-19 patients, researchers found that 75% of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient.
How much should I take each day?
While there are many other examples from research to suggests the importance of vitamin D availability in the body, the big question is, “how much should I take each day?” For starters, aim to ingest the recommended daily intake of 10-20 micrograms per day of the vitamin. Some research explains the benefits of the vitamin may occur once 25-100 micrograms are ingested, daily. With that said, always check with your physician for specific supplementation recommendations.
If you are in the grocery store or in the vitamin store, you want to find vitamin D3, and as always, find ways to soak up some sunlight as UV light helps active vitamin D in your body.
*Before starting any nutrition or specific diet regimen, consult with your physician or medical healthcare provider, and registered dietitian
Bilezikian, John P., et al. “Mechanisms in endocrinology: Vitamin D and COVID-19.” European journal of endocrinology 183.5 (2020): R133-R147.
Lau FH, Majumder R, Torabi R, Saeg F, Hoffman R, Cirillo JD & Greiffenstein P. Vitamin D insufficiency is prevalent in severe COVID-19. medRxiv 2020
Teymoori‐Rad, Majid, and Sayed Mahdi Marashi. “Vitamin D and Covid‐19: From potential therapeutic effects to unanswered questions.” Reviews in medical virology (2020): e2159.
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