Vitamin D and COVID-19

With so much still unknown about COVID-19, it’s clear that some seemingly healthy people are hit hard with the virus. How is it that someone that “appears” healthy can have such a quick downturn?

In a recent study published in a peer reviewed scientific journal, it was observed that Vitamin D deficiency increases the chance of having severe disease with infection of COVID-19. The intensity of inflammatory response is also higher in vitamin D deficient COVID-19 patients. This all translates to increased likelihood of death in COVID-19 patients who are deficient in vitamin D. (Chaurasia, 2020)

This study goes on to say that there is a strong correlation between asymptomatic patients and ideal vitamin D levels, while noting that 97% of ICU patients were deficient in vitamin D. Of those deficient ICU patients, 32% died during the six-week study. In the 90 asymptomatic patients, only 32% were deficient in vitamin D.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find there are many other scientific studies that suggest vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of respiratory infections. One study from back in 2005 showed that Vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of acute respiratory tract infection among all participants.

Why so much focus on supplementation? The foods that we eat have very little vitamin D (you’ll need 32oz of salmon per day), and the majority we do get is absorbed through the skin from sunlight. The amount of sunlight that starts to turn the skin red produces the equivalent of 10,000 to 25,000 IU. Our society of late has been shunning the sun for sake of skin cancers and wrinkles. High SPF sunscreen will absolutely block the vitamin D from being absorbed. Wear the hat to protect that money maker but allow your arms and legs to get ample sunlight without burning. If sun isn’t available where you live, the current National Institutes of Health recommended minimum intake is 400 international units (IU) per day for adults, with an upper limit of 4,000 IU per day from supplement forms.

In countries where year-round sun exposure provides the equivalent of 10,000 IU a day, its uncommon for people to have autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

Still not a believer? Ask your doctor for a blood panel and see yourself if your levels are optimal, especially in the winter.

Tip: Take vitamin D supplements with the highest fat meal of the day for optimal absorption.


Breanna Barton

Certified Nutrition Coach and CrossFit Trainer with over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness industry.