With all the fear surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, one would hope the medical community would rally itself, brainstorm a working solution, and then doctors and the media would cooperate to immediately inform people of simple (correct) measures one could take to prevent infection, or at least to lessen its severity. Sadly, this has not been the case. The best way I’ve heard this current culture of helplessness expressed is “therapeutic nihilism.” Patients receive a positive test result, and are given a flier from their physicians’ office instructing them to either go to the nearest ER or call 911 if they worsen. Most are given no information or treatment at all, even for common symptoms, such a cough or sore throat.
For the last 10 years, I have been a military physician, and have checked vitamin D levels on everyone I could, as that was my training. It was low 99.9% of the time and the small percent in the normal range were always at the low end. Most military members spend more time outdoors than civilians, and should have higher D levels. And most eat normal diets, which include dairy. Enter Sweden, who fortifies their food (even organic) with vitamin D and has a much lower rate of death from COVID-19 than the United States.1
It is becoming increasingly evident that vitamin D has a critical role in preventing and lessening the severity of a COVID-19 infection. Physicians are a very risk-averse group, so a group of physicians and bench scientists coming together to produce an “Anything For All” consensus statement should get everyone’s attention. Indeed such a letter has been produced, and now even has its own hashtag: #VitaminDforAll! This statement, https://vitamindforall.org/letter.html, conveys both the evidence and the urgency behind the recommendation to immediately increase intake of this inexpensive and widely-available supplement. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Richard Carmona, has now endorsed this document, and vitamin D can be supplemented immediately while waiting for a vaccine.2
Sadly, our multivitamins do not have enough vitamin D to meaningfully increase levels, so unless one is already under treatment for low vitamin D, low levels can be assumed, and one can safely begin supplementation, following the recommendations given on the letter. If one has any questions whatsoever, one should contact their physician.
And what is the right form of vitamin D to take? D2 or D3? D3 is better absorbed at the daily levels of 1,000iU-10,000iU, but D2 is better absorbed in the weekly-doses (prescription only) of 50,000iU. The right form to take is whatever gets one’s levels up to at least the normal of 30, though ideal numbers are more toward the higher end of normal, as a safety margin. The levels can easily be checked at any primary care physician’s office.
And as this versatile vitamin has an important rule in general immunity and prevention/lessening of other acute and chronic diseases,3 we can all benefit from maintaining higher levels, even after the COVID-19 plague has passed!
- https://fee.org/articles/sweden-now-has-a-lower-covid-19-death-rate-than-the-us-here-s-why-it-matters/ (Accessed 3/17/2021)
- https://vitamindforall.org/letter.html (Accessed 3/17/2021)
- Bishop E, et al. Vitamin D and Immune Regulation: Antibacterial, Antiviral, Anti-Inflammatory. JBMR Plus. 2021 Jan; 5(1):e10405.
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