As we all navigate our new COVID-19 world, researchers around the globe are looking for ways to both treat the ill and keep healthy folks healthy. It’s been especially encouraging to see scientists explore the role vitamins and minerals may play in building immunity and speeding up recovery.
One nutrient getting a lot of press right now is the “sunshine vitamin” – vitamin D. One study out of Northwestern University looked at how vitamin D deficiency may be linked to patients with COVID-19 developing dangerously overactive immune systems.
Noticing unexplained differences in COVID-19 death rates from country to country, researchers analyzed data from hospitals and clinics across China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. What they found was a “strong correlation” between vitamin D levels and cytokine storm – a hyperinflammatory condition caused by an overactive immune system – as well as a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and mortality.
“Cytokine storm,” said first author Ali Daneshkah in a news release,
can severely damage lungs and lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and death in patients. This is what seems to kill a majority of COVID-19 patients, not the destruction of the lungs by the virus itself.
Vadim Backman, who led the study, said that having healthy levels of vitamin D could protect patients against severe complications, including death, from COVID-19.
Our analysis shows that it might be as high as cutting the mortality rate in half. It will not prevent a patient from contracting the virus, but it may reduce complications and prevent death in those who are infected.
Meanwhile, a new UK study likewise suggests that vitamin D may protect against the more negative consequences of the virus and may even protect against COVID-19 infection. This study also highlighted why the elderly seem particularly susceptible.
The most vulnerable group of population for COVID-19, the aging population, is also the one that has the most deficit Vitamin D levels.
While both studies have yet to be peer reviewed, earlier research has suggested that vitamin D supplementation may protect against acute respiratory infections in general. However, it’s not yet known if restoring vitamin D to normal levels would help as a treatment.
The good news, as Backman noted, is that the harm of vitamin D deficiency “can easily be addressed with appropriate supplementation.”
This might be another key to helping protect vulnerable populations, such as African-American and elderly patients, who have a prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
While you can find vitamin D in certain foods, and of course from the sun, supplements can be helpful, too. You just want to be sure that it’s D3 you’re getting – and that you take it along with vitamin K2. As we noted before, these two nutrients work best in tandem with each other.
Since vitamin D is also great for gum health and helping your body absorb calcium, now might be just the time to talk with a trusted health professional like Dr. Yoshida about this and other supplements that can support both your oral and overall health.