Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine has been approved in currently in use, but before then, many people were using, and are still using vitamin d supplements to optimize their immune system and help them arrest COVID-19.
There are many posts on social media pushing supplements as protective agents against COVID-19. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, MD, cautioned against unsupervised use of these immune-boosting supplements, noting that they do “nothing” in the actual sense.
Medical researchers are investigating the therapeutic effects of vitamin D against the symptoms of COVID-19.
But one supplement might be exempted — and that’s vitamin D. It is commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”
According to Fauci, deficiency in vitamins increases a person’s susceptibility to infection. Note that Fauci wasn’t referring to COVID-19, but the general role of vitamin D in boosting the immune system especially in those who already were deficient in it.
While there may be no solid evidence to show that vitamin D treats or prevents COVID-19, results from studies conducted so far give some hope.
The Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and COVID-19
Earlier studies suggested that vitamin D was effective against respiratory tract infections. There were variations in the benefits (among these studies), but supplementing with vitamin D seemed to be more effective in people who were already deficient in it.
Results from studies conducted so far suggest that vitamin D supplements might be helpful in COVID-19 treatment.
Recent studies suggest that a vitamin D deficiency may increase a person’s risk of COVID-19 infection as well as the severity of the disease.
Some studies have found that the death rates due to COVID-19 are higher in countries farther away from the equator where there is a large number of vitamin D deficient people due to the low amount of sunlight.
Sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D. Our bodies produce vitamin D when they are exposed to the sunlight, and in the winter (colder months), the rates of vitamin D deficiency can increase.
It is important to note that many factors may play a role in the high rates of COVID-19 cases in the northerly latitudes. But then, a September 2020 study published inJAMA Network Open emphasized the immune-boosting effect of COVID-19.
According to the study, people who were deficient in Vitamin D had a higher chance of testing positive for COVID-19. This trend persisted even when they controlled other risk factors — like obesity, age, etc. that might complicate COVID-19.
Some studies have found that vitamin D deficiency can increase the severity of COVID-19.
Anotherstudy by Nogués et al. has found that treatment with calcifediol reduced ICU admission and mortality in COVID-19 patients. Out of the 930 participants that were involved in the study, 551 were randomly assigned to calcifediol treatment while 379 were assigned as controls. Overall mortality was 10%. In the Intention-to-treat analysis, 36 (6.5%) out of 551 patients treated with calcifediol at admission died compared to 57 patients (15%) out of 379 controls.
These studies show that vitamin D deficiency in COVID-19 patients constitutes a risk for poor prognosis.
Should You Take Vitamin D?
Well, even before the conclusion of these studies, it wouldn’t be out of place to consider supplementing with vitamin D.
It is important to note that most Americans are already deficient in vitamin D and so could benefit from vitamin D supplementation, even if not for COVID-related reasons.
According to a study, at least 41% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D. The risk seems to be greater in people who have dark skin — with 82% of Blacks and 63% of Hispanics having low vitamin D levels respectively.
The risk of deficiency is increased by other factors such as obesity, limited exposure to the sun, and some underlying medical conditions.
Getting an adequate amount of vitamin D from foods may be difficult, so supplementing is recommended. However, you must consult your healthcare provider first.