As health officials continue to expect a second wave of COVID-19 this fall, spreading information about how to prevent it is becoming crucial. One of the most important strategies in this regard is to optimize your vitamin D level.
Vitamin D not only helps regulate immune function and prevent respiratory illnesses in general, but mounting data analyses show clear parallels between vitamin D levels and the risk of infection, severity and mortality from COVID-19 as well.
While U.S. authorities are still trying to debunk (and even instill fear) of vitamin D supplementation, British and Scottish authorities appear to be embracing a more sensible approach.
The British Frontline Immune Support Team, founded "to make available some of the best quality immune supportive products … to help keep those on the NHS (UK National Health Service) frontline resilient and strong," is already providing health care workers with free nutritional supplements known to bolster and regulate immune function.
This includes liposomal vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc. As noted on frontlineimmunesupport.com, the group's fundraiser page:1
"Immune supportive packs are sent directly to each individual NHS healthcare worker who signs up for this initiative — and they receive all products for FREE. We currently have hundreds of NHS staff already signed up ready to go; and with your contributions we can supply and reach thousands more."
The Frontline Immune Support Team point out that vitamin D:2
"… plays a critical role in your immune defense system, both in reducing flu-like days of illness if your blood level is sufficient, and in helping your immune system respond when under viral attack. It speeds up recovery from pneumonia.
Two in five adults have a level of vitamin D below 25nmol/l, especially in late winter months such as February and March, that is likely to almost double their risk of flu. A vitamin D level above 100 nmol/l correlates with the lowest numbers of flu-like days. The moral of the story is to get your level up as quickly as possible."
Public Health Scotland and the British NHS are also assessing the evidence to determine whether vitamin D should be prescribed to in-hospital patients and as a prevention to high-risk groups.3
Vitamin D Level Correlates With Risk of Respiratory Infection
Clinical trials using vitamin D against COVID-19 are currently underway,4 but we don't need to wait for results to know that vitamin D optimization is a good idea. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus, which means it's more difficult for your immune system to identify and destroy it.
However, as noted by The Frontline Support Team, we already know higher vitamin D levels are inversely associated with infection by many other enveloped viruses, including dengue, hepatitis, herpes, HIV, rotavirus, respiratory syncytial virus and influenza.5,6
Vitamin D also strengthens cellular junctions, thereby making it more difficult for viruses to gain entry through your eyes, ears, lungs and mucus membranes. This in turn makes the infection less likely to migrate down into your lungs.7Importantly, vitamin D also strengthens the adaptive arm of your immune system, and its ability to produce antibodies.8 According to a June 17, 2020, report by The Guardian:9
"Public health officials are urgently reviewing the potential ability of vitamin D to reduce the risk of coronavirus. It comes amid growing concern over the disproportionate number of black, Asian and minority ethnic people contracting and dying from the disease, including a reported10 94% of all doctors killed by the virus …
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) began this work last month and is considering recent evidence on vitamin D and acute respiratory tract infection in the general population. Evidence will be considered on specific population groups, including those of different ages and BAME [black, Asian, minority ethnic] groups.
In a parallel development, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is conducting a 'rapid' evidence review on vitamin D 'in the context of Covid-19' with support from Public Health England (PHE)."