In recent weeks and months, there's been an upshot of studies1 demonstrating the benefits of vitamin D against COVID-19. The evidence is so compelling, more than 100 doctors, scientists and leading authorities have signed an open letter2 calling for increased use of vitamin D in the fight against COVID-19.
Research shows low vitamin D levels almost certainly promote COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Given its safety, we call for immediate widespread increased vitamin D intakes," the letter states, adding:3 "Vitamin D modulates thousands of genes and many aspects of immune function, both innate and adaptive. The scientific evidence shows that:
•Higher vitamin D blood levels are associated with lower rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Higher D levels are associated with lower risk of a severe case (hospitalization, ICU, or death).
•Intervention studies (including RCTs) indicate that vitamin D can be a very effective treatment. Many papers reveal several biological mechanisms by which vitamin D influences COVID-19.
•Causal inference modelling, Hill's criteria, the intervention studies & the biological mechanisms indicate that vitamin D's influence on COVID-19 is very likely causal, not just correlation."
The letter recommends taking enough vitamin D to achieve a blood level of at least 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L). They also urge testing of all hospitalized COVID-19 patients and adding vitamin D to the treatment protocol for any patient whose level is below 30 ng/mL. Many other doctors are also urging government health agencies to get onboard with vitamin D recommendations. As reported by NL Times:4
'There is a growing consensus in the scientific world about the important role of vitamin D,' says Manfred Eggersdorfer, professor of Healthy Aging at the University Medical Center Groningen. He argues that 'it can reduce the chance that you will get corona and the infection can last shorter.'
The wait-and-see attitude adopted by governments does not sit well in the scientific community. Professor of immunology at Wageningen University, Huub Savelkoul, called the attitude 'frustrating.'
He states that 'there are more and more studies showing the benefit of vitamin D. I think it is a kind of arrogance that the government wants to wait for a meta-study first. It seems as if we don't care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime. You have to be careful with that comment, but that's where my frustration lies.'
Vitamin D Optimization Is Powerful Prevention
In a December 23, 2020, Fox News interview5,6 (above), Dr. Peter Osborne with the Origins Nutrition Center stated that the most recent studies suggest 9 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented had people had adequate vitamin D levels.
While I suspect this might be an overestimation, there's no doubt in my mind that optimizing vitamin D levels among the general population would significantly lower COVID-19 incidence and death.
At the East Virginia School of Medicine there's a COVID protocol that includes Vitamin D," Osborne said. "So, if you're hospitalized for COVID, they're automatically putting you on between 20,000 and 60,000 units of vitamin D. This is part of their standard of care protocol in that hospital system.
Osborne also recommends using vitamin C and zinc, as well as quercetin, which allows for greater zinc absorption. Quercetin also boosts type 1 interferon, which signals infected cells to produce proteins that stop the virus from replicating, and works synergistically with vitamin C. This is all good advice. As noted in a December 2020 Frontiers in Nutrition review:7
… Zinc and vitamins C and D stand out for having immunomodulatory functions and for playing roles in preserving physical tissue barriers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the adequate intake of zinc and vitamins C and D may represent a promising pharmacological tool due to the high demand for these nutrients in the case of contact with the virus and onset of the inflammatory process.
However, vitamin D is not my first choice for acute illness that requires immediate treatment. While high-dose vitamin D loading may be helpful in some respects, my No. 1 choice for treating acute respiratory illness is nebulized hydrogen peroxide, which I'll discuss at the end of this article. It goes to work immediately, while vitamin D requires time, at bare minimum, days, to make a difference.
With respect to preventing COVID-19 deaths, I strongly believe that nebulized hydrogen peroxide could easily prevent at least 90% of the deaths if administered properly. It deeply saddens me to see so many die needlessly because they don't use this incredibly inexpensive and safe therapy.
Vitamin D Improves COVID-19 Outcomes
Now, bear in mind that prevention and treatment are not the same. I firmly believe that vitamin D optimization will help prevent COVID-19 infection and reduce your risk of severe symptoms should you contract it.
In fact, I launched an information campaign about vitamin D back in June 2020, which included the release of a downloadable scientific report that detailed the science behind vitamin D. This report, as well as a two-minute COVID risk quiz is available on StopCovidCold.com.
There's also evidence to show high-dose vitamin D loading can improve COVID-19 outcomes even in acute and severe cases. According to a December 2020 randomized, double-blind study8 in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, giving critically ill COVID-19 patients high doses of vitamin D significantly reduced the number of days they had to spend in the ICU. They were also less likely to need ventilation. According to the authors:9
Thirty patients completed the study. The results show that injection of vitamin D leads to a significant increase in the mean changes of vitamin D level on the seventh day of the study and TAC [total antioxidant capacity] levels.
ICU length of stay was 18.3±8.4 and 25.4±6.6 days in the intervention and placebo arms of the study. Twelve patients in the placebo group and 5 in the vitamin D group died within the 28-day study period. The duration of mechanical ventilation was 15.7± 9.3 vs. 22.6± 9.1 days in vitamin D and placebo arms, respectively.
Similarly, a mathematical reanalysis10 of a calcifediol trial concluded there's a "strong role for vitamin D in reducing ICU admissions of hospitalized COVID-19 patients." The analysis looked at data from an earlier trial11 done on hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Córdoba, Spain. As explained by the authors of the analysis:12
… the treatment was associated with reduced ICU admissions with very large effect size and high statistical significance, but the study has had limited impact because it had only 76 patients and imperfect blinding, and did not measure vitamin D levels pre- and post-treatment or adjust for several comorbidities.
In an effort to account for these shortcomings, they reanalyzed the data using statistical techniques, concluding that "the randomization, large effect size, and high statistical significance address many of these concerns."
For starters, they found that "random assignment of patients to treatment and control groups is highly unlikely to distribute comorbidities or other prognostic indicators sufficiently unevenly to account for the large effect size."
They also demonstrated that the imperfect blinding did not have a negative impact, as it would have had to have "an implausibly large effect to account for the reported results."
To double-check their findings, they also compared the data with two other randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation for COVID-19, one from India and another from Brazil. In conclusion, the authors stated that:
… the Córdoba study provides sufficient evidence to warrant immediate, well-designed pivotal clinical trials of early calcifediol administration in a broader cohort of inpatients and outpatients with COVID-19.