Vitamin D is an essential part of our body's immune function, which makes it a critical resource during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, it's essential for your bones and overall health, but if you haven't ensured you're getting enough of this vitamin every day, here is an additional voice advocating you take this step.
The former chief of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, has recommended that people make sure they're supplementing with Vitamin D3 each day, because its immune protections may help reduce the risk of coronavirus.
Today we'll have a look at the science behind this statement. While Vitamin D3 doesn't have the potential to cure COVID-19 or to guarantee you won't contract it, there is plenty of reason to supplement this bone-building vitamin to help bolster your body's ability to ward off the virus.
What Vitamin D Can Do
It's rare for a mainstream doctor to tout the benefits of a vitamin or any alternative treatment method, but Dr. Frieden has stepped up in this time of need to provide the public with important information.
The former CDC chief offered valuable insights into the benefits of Vitamin D3 — and the immediate need for supplementation — in an editorial published on March 24th. Here's an excerpt of that editorial:
“Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infection, regulates cytokine production and can limit the risk of other viruses such as influenza. A respiratory infection can result in cytokine storms – a vicious cycle in which our inflammatory cells damage organs throughout the body – which increase mortality for those with COVID-19. Adequate Vitamin D may potentially provide some modest protection for vulnerable populations.
This is especially important for people who are Vitamin D deficient – and, surprisingly, that might include more than 40 percent of US adults. People who live in the northern part of the U.S. are at greater risk of deficiency.
There is evidence of seasonality in some respiratory illnesses, including influenza and tuberculosis. A leading hypothesis is that seasonality is due to the reduction in Vitamin D because of decreased exposure to sunlight in winter months.”1
There is a large body of scientific evidence that bears out this theory and demonstrates the benefits Dr. Friedan mentions in his editorial.
Former CDC chief Dr. Tom Friedan has broken with mainstream medicine's resistance to alternative treatments, embracing the science that shows how Vitamin D3 reduces the risk of respiratory infection and viral infection. That makes supplementing critically important, especially in people who are Vitamin D deficient — which includes more than 40% of US adults.
Studies Of Vitamin D3 And The Immune System
The assertions of Dr. Friedan are backed up by a great many studies that provide specific evidence of the benefits of Vitamin D3 supplementation. The following studies and their effects have a direct bearing on maintaining your health during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Viral infections — A 2019 study looked at the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and viral disease development in prior studies. It notes the induction of an antiviral state as part of the complex interplay between viral infections and Vitamin D3, and the growing interest in the power of Vitamin D3 to combat viral infections.2
- Community pneumonia — Another recent study conducted a meta-analysis of the scientific literature on the relationship between Vitamin D3 deficiency and community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). They found a clear association between Vitamin D3 deficiency and CAP patients. COVID-19 infections in many patients can result in pneumonia, so reducing it by preventing Vitamin D3 deficiency is especially important right now. 3
- Respiratory tract infections A study titled “Vitamin D for prevention of respiratory tract infections: A systematic review and meta-analysis” looked at five randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials. The researchers found that events of respiratory tract infections (such as influenza, pneumonia, common cold, etc.) were significantly lower in groups that supplemented with Vitamin D. 4
- Regulation of cytokine patterns — Dr. Friedan noted the importance of cytokine regulation to prevent COVID-19 from creating a cytokine storm that can destroy the body's organs and lead to death. A 2015 study published in the medical journal Plos One found that Vitamin D3 plays a novel role in regulating immune responses in humans, in particular on the secretion of cytokines. This suggests that Vitamin D3 deficiency leaves the immune system unable to adequately regulate cytokines to prevent cytokine storms and organ failure. 5
- Seasonal influenza — A 2010 study conducted a winter-long randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial comparing Vitamin D3 supplementation with placebo in schoolchildren. They found that Vitamin D3 supplementation reduced the incidence of influenza. This outcome shows the immune-boosting and anti-viral properties of Vitamin D3.6
Studies have found that Vitamin D3 supplementation has a positive impact on the human immune system, conferring benefits such as reducing the risk of viral infection, reducing the risk of pneumonia, regulating cytokine patterns, and reducing the risk of seasonal influenza.
Your Bones Need Vitamin D3
As Savers know well, Vitamin D3 is also critical for the healthy development of strong, high-quality bones. Here are a few of its bone-health benefits:
- Vitamin D3 reduces chronic pain and muscle weakness, which helps protect against falls and fractures.7
- Vitamin D3 has a positive effect on mood, reducing the symptoms of depression, and helping you to stay actively and positively engaged in the pursuit of bone-health.8
- In conjunction with regular exercise, Vitamin D3 has been shown to lower blood sugar levels. That's important for bone health because high blood sugar levels damage bones.9
- Vitamin D3 improves your vision, which helps you to prevent fracture by increasing awareness of your surroundings to reduce trips and falls.10
- Vitamin D3 helps prevent unhealthy weight gain. Excessive weight has a negative impact on the strength and quality of your bones.11
- Vitamin D3 regulates your body's ability to absorb calcium, and to mineralize the collagen matrix in bone. Those are two foundational actions that are absolutely necessary for your body to create new bone.12
It's important to note the difference between Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is very difficult for your body to absorb and convert into calcitriol, the bioactivated form that the body uses. Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is the only form of Vitamin D that you should take. It is readily absorbable and convertible into calcitriol, which provides the benefits described above.
Vitamin D3 is a Foundation Supplement. The Save Institute recommends taking 2000 IUs daily, especially if it's winter where you are, or if you're remaining inside due TO COVID-19. If you're getting plenty of sun, 2000 IUs daily is still safe, because your body won't overproduce the vitamin if you have enough in your system already.13 Because Vitamin D is fat-soluble, its bio-availability is greatly increased when taken with a source of healthy fats, like avocado, almonds, or eggs.
Vitamin D3 is essential for bone health via many different positive effects. It supports muscle strength and vision to reduce the risk of falls. It helps prevent excessive weight gain and high blood sugar — both of which damage bones. Most importantly, it facilitates the absorption of calcium and the creation of bone matrix. Take 2000 IUs of Vitamin D3 (never Vitamin D2) daily.
What This Means To You
Vitamin D3 is essential for the health of your bones. It is also essential for your overall health, and your body's ability to prevent and fight viral infections. While it doesn't offer a miracle in the fight against COVID-19, it appears likely that it can provide another line of defense against the virus.
We will need to use every resource available, from supplements to social distancing, to defeat this virus. By taking care of ourselves and each other we will make it through!