Low levels of serum vitamin D are linked to the severity of Covid-19, according to several studies, but less than 1 in 8 people in Britain and the USA have anything like the recommended levels of plasma vitamin D.
Vitamin D is produced by the action of sunshine on the cholesterol layers under the skin. There is almost none in foods – the idea that you can eat enough vitamin D to protect yourself from illness is a myth. Cod liver oil has a little vitamin D in it and that’s about it. If you cannot go in the sun, you should supplement. One problem is that black people have high melanin levels in the skin and this prevents them from making vitamin D in the same levels as sun exposure would do for light skinned people.
A 2020 study in the Lancet refers to a meta-analysis of studies between 2007 and 2020 showing that vitamin D has protective benefits against acute respiratory infections. The article goes on to say that, “Vitamin D metabolites have long been known to support innate antiviral effector mechanisms, including induction of antimicrobial peptides and autophagy”.
There have also been studies specifically on vitamin D and Covid. For example:
Vitamin D levels and Covid in SEA
In a study (2) on 212 adults at the outset of Covid-19 in South East Asia, three levels of plasma Vitamin D were categorised:
* Plasma vitamin D below 20 ng/ml – deficient
* Plasma vitamin D between 21 and 29 ng/ml – insufficient
* Plasma levels above 30 – normal.
Severity of Covid greater, the lower your vitamin D
Results of the study:
88% of all cases where vitamin D levels were above 30 ng/ml and deemed ‘normal’ were mild.
73% of cases where vitamin D levels were below 20ng/ml and deemed deficient were severe or critical.
Of the total cases studied:
* 23% were critical, average vitamin D level was 17ng/ml
* 26% were severe, average vitamin D level was 21ng/ml
* 28% were ordinary, average vitamin D level was 27ng/ml
* 23% were mild, average vitamin D level was 29ng/ml
Vitamin D and Covid-19 in Israel
In what is billed as the largest study to date, Israeli scientists monitored 7,807 people tested for Covid. Those testing positive for Covid-19 were in the below 20ng/ml ‘inadequate’ range; those who were Covid-free were in the ‘normal’ vitamin D level range. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern of Bar Ilan University told The Times of Israel (3) that vitamin D is “like a steroid,” and that people who needed hospitalisation were at even lower levels still – those in the 25-49 age group being hospitalised 1.45 times more than others their age.
Recommended levels of Vitamin D
It should be noted that in the UK, approximately 80% of adults are in the under 20 ng/ml level, and deemed low.
The NHS now recommends 35-40 ng/ml as ‘normal’ and in the USA recommended levels are that you should be above 40 ng/ml.
Boston Medical School, who are probably the world experts on Vitamin D under Professor Michael Holick, have consistently advocated levels above 70 ng/ml as important for immune health. The Vitamin D Society suggest much the same.
Beware, some measurements are given in nmol/L.
40 ng/ml would be 100 nmol/L;
50 ng/ml would be 125 nmol/L.
Sunshine or supplementation of vitamin D
If you can go in the sun exposing your body for 90 minutes to 3 hours, do. If not, supplement with 2,500 IUs a day. People with cancer should take twice this level. Drugs also damage levels.
Chicago and Covid-19
Only 13% of the total population has over 40ng/ml in their blood stream, the American recommended plasma level. That’s about 1 in every 8 people. Black Americans are the worst group with just 6% at this recommended level. That’s only 1 in 17 people.
In Chicago twice as many Blacks have died from Covid-19 as their share of population.
Research (4) from NorthWestern Medical School in Chicago, which studied data from 10 countries worldwide has shown that there is a ‘strong correlation’ between increased Covid mortality and severe deficiency in blood levels of vitamin D. The research, led by Professor Backman of the NorthWestern McCormick School of Engineering, looked at a number of factors such as age distribution of populations, standards of healthcare, testing rates and more. ‘All we found was this significant correlation with vitamin D deficiency’, he said.
There was also a strong correlation between vitamin D deficiency and cytokine storm. “Cytokine storm 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. It is the complications from the misdirected fire from the immune system.” Backman believes that vitamin D prevents our immune systems from becoming dangerously overactive.
Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist said, “For 15 years now we have been writing how health bodies like Cancer Research UK telling people to stay out of the sun is sheer lunacy. Holick and four other American experts recently launched a study, accusing such health bodies of being responsible for 300,000 premature deaths a year in the USA.
Just understand this. You can take all the immune boosting supplements you want from vitamin C, to echinacea, grape seed extract and vitamin E. But your immune cells cannot attack a pathogen until they each pick up a vitamin D molecule. Vitamin D is essential – It arms the immune system’s attack.”
One of the most worrying aspects is that all the research studies comment that vitamin D levels in the populations of the Western world have been declining for 30 years or more.
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- Joliffe D. et al; Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of aggregate data from randomised controlled trials.