With so many questions out there still lingering about COVID-19, people
are willing to try anything to prevent the chance of catching it. So,
could getting a little extra Vitamin D be the solution? According to a
study published by BMJ, Nutrition, Prevention and Health, there is no
strong scientific evidence to show that very high intakes of vitamin D
will be beneficial in preventing or treating COVID-19.
Speculation about vitamin D preventing COVID-19 began when researchers
in the US and UK began comparing vitamin D levels in various countries
with coronavirus death rates and found that countries with lower levels
of vitamin D also had higher COVID-19 death rates.
It’s important to keep in mind that people who are at highest risk
of vitamin D deficiency – those with underlying conditions, older
age and darker skin color – are also the same people at highest
risk of dying from COVID-19. Having a darker skin makes it more difficult
for the skin to absorb enough sun to manufacture vitamin D. Our bodies
are also less efficient at creating vitamin D as we age, thus many of
the elderly are typically vitamin D deficient. And lack of vitamin D is
associated with common chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and
diabetes. While these groups of people have been hit the hardest by COVID-19,
it’s not necessarily because they weren’t getting enough vitamin D.
So what would be the harm in taking extra Vitamin D just in case? Taking
more than the recommended daily dose of vitamin D or “Mega-dosing”
the supplement can lead to a toxic buildup of calcium in your blood, causing
confusion, disorientation, vomiting, weakness, or an irregular heartbeat.
Like all vitamins, D is essential in small quantities for normal cell
function. Sun exposure is the best way to get vitamin D. In strong sun,
exposing arms and legs for 5-30 minutes between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. is
usually enough to meet the daily requirement. If you do not have access
to the sun, vitamin D supplements of 10-20 micrograms per day are enough
for most people.
Besides only getting the recommended amount of vitamin D, the most important
thing you can do is keep your body and immune system healthy in defense
of COVID-19. Exercise regularly, drink alcohol only in moderation, get
adequate sleep, don’t smoke and take steps to avoid infection by
wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.