Home » Covid war: Vitamin D may save your life

Covid war: Vitamin D may save your life

by Tommy Roche

IF YOU can go in the sun exposing your body for 90 minutes to three hours, do.

If not, supplement with 2,500 IUs a day. People with cancer should take twice this level.

So said Chris Woollams, Former Oxford University Biochemist, Author, and founder of the UKs leading cancer charity CancerACTIVE

Main points:

→ Most people in Ireland are Vitamin D deficient

→ High levels of vitamin D reduced deaths in clinical studies

→ A number of experts say all adults should supplement with vitamin D


Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) website says:

Studies in Ireland have shown that low vitamin D status and vitamin D deficiency are widespread in the population of Ireland.


However, the HSE merely advises that those who are having to self-isolate or are unable to go outside, should consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D.

It doesn’t even give recommendations on the level of supplementation required.


And yet…

There is overwhelming scientific evidence showing the benefits of Vitamin D supplementation in reducing Covid-19 incidence, severity of illness, and death rate.


Irish experts call for Vitamin D supplementation.

In an Irish Times article dated November 24 2020, Trinity College gerontologist Prof Rose Anne Kenny has argued that people have “nothing to lose”, and much to gain, by taking vitamin D supplements as protection during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Evidence linking vitamin D deficiency with severity of Covid-19 disease is “circumstantial but considerable”, she says.
Professor Kenny is a member of the Covit-D Consortium.

In a position statement from the Covit-D Consortium, published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science, the authors say:

The evidence linking vitamin D deficiency with increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and Covid-19 disease severity has evolved significantly since March 2020, and now strongly supports the need for intervention in this area.

Given this evidence and the unambiguous safety profile of daily intakes at these levels, we recommend that adults in Ireland should be supplemented with oral vitamin D3 at 800 to1000 International Units per day for the duration of this pandemic.

For those who are overweight or obese, or who have dark skin pigmentation or other risk factors for vitamin D deficiency, it is likely that supplementation at daily doses higher than this will be required to achieve the serum 25(OH) D levels needed for optimal immunity against Covid-19.

British experts also support Vitamin D supplementation.

An expert panel of scientists including Professor Michael F. Holick, one of the world’s leading experts on Vitamin D, published The Facts: Vitamin D and Coronavirus in September 2020. In their article they say:

The scientific evidence for vitamin D is overwhelming, but the news has been slow to spread.

This is, in part, due to outdated knowledge about vitamin D and disbelief that a simple nutrient deficiency could have such a profound impact.

Many scientists realised in March that vitamin D deficiency increased the risk of catching coronavirus and the risk of severe reaction to infection: disease severity patterns matched exactly with the patterns of vitamin D deficiency which is seasonal.

This correlation was proven to be caused by vitamin D deficiency in May, but publishing results in peer-reviewed journals can take up to a year.

Since then, many subsequent studies have confirmed this result, and a recent peer-reviewed clinical trial of vitamin D treatment for hospitalised patients proved it was considerably more effective than the leading treatment at the time.

Recommendation: Adults Take 4,000 IU/day of D3 (cholecalciferol). We recommend that all adults take a vitamin D supplement to help protect themselves from Covid-19.

Supplements of cholecalciferol (D3) of 4,000 IU/day (100mcg) are universally considered safe. Supplements below 50mcg/day (2,000 IU/day) may not be enough to fully protect an adult.

Some of the studies showing the benefits of Vitamin D.

This 2020 study says: From the available evidence, we hypothesize that raising serum 25(OH) D concentrations through vitamin D supplementation could reduce the incidence, severity, and risk of death from influenza, pneumonia, and the current Covid-19 epidemic.

This 2020 clinical trial was carried out at the University hospital setting (Reina Sofia University Hospital, Córdoba Spain.)

Seventy-six consecutive patients hospitalized with Covid-19 infection, received standard care. Fifty patients received calcifediod in addition to standard care.

Of 50 patients treated with Calcifediol [Vitamin D], one required admission to the ICU (2%), while of 26 untreated patients, 13 required admission (50%).

Of the patients treated with Calcifediol, none died, and all were discharged, without complications.

Thirteen patients not treated with Calcifediol, who were not admitted to the ICU, were discharged. Of the 13 patients admitted to the ICU, two died and the remaining 11 were discharged.

The study authors concluded:
Our pilot study demonstrated that administration of a high dose of Calcifediol or 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a main metabolite of vitamin D endocrine system, significantly reduced the need for ICU treatment of patients requiring hospitalization due to proven COVID-19. Calcifediol seems to be able to reduce severity of the disease…

This 2020 study was published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

The authors concluded: we found significant crude relationships between vitamin D levels and the number Covid-19 cases and especially the mortality caused by this infection.

The most vulnerable group of population for Covid-19, the aging population, is also the one that has the most deficit Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D has already been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections and it was shown to be safe.

This 2020 study published in the British Medical Journal concluded:  Older adults with vitamin D deficiency and Covid-19 may demonstrate worse morbidity outcomes.

Vitamin D status may be a useful prognosticator.

This 2020 study involved 216 Covid-19 patients (19 of whom were on Vitamin D supplements) and 197 population-based controls.

The study found that (apart from the 19 patients on Vitamin D supplements) Vitamin D deficiency levels are lower in hospitalized COVID-19 patients than in population-based controls.

Patients on supplements had an overall lower percentage of the combined severity endpoint and ICU admissions, as well as a shorter length of hospital stay, although these data did not reach statistical significance.

This 2020 study published in Nature was a continuous prospective observational study of six weeks

Participants were154 Covid-19 patients aged 30–60 years admitted during the study period of six weeks.

Study included 91 asymptomatic COVID-19 patients (Group A) and 63 severely ill patients requiring ICU admission (Group B).

Serum concentration of Vitamin D were measured along with serum IL-6; TNFα and serum ferritin.

The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was 32.96% in asymptomatic patients and 96.82% in severely ill patients.

Serum level of inflammatory markers was found to be higher in vitamin D deficient Covid-19 patients…The fatality rate was high in vitamin D deficient (21% vs 3.1%).

Vitamin D level is markedly low in severe Covid-19 patients. Inflammatory response is high in vitamin D deficient Covid-19 patients.

Conclusion: Vitamin D deficiency markedly increases the chance of having severe disease after infection with SARS Cov-2.

The intensity of inflammatory response is also higher in vitamin D deficient Covid-19 patients.

This all translates to increase morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients who are deficient in vitamin D.

Keeping the current Covid-19 pandemic in view authors recommend administration of vitamin D supplements to population at risk for Covid-19.

This 2020 study involving sixty-six elderly nursing home residents says: In conclusion, we were able to report among frail elderly residents that bolus vitamin D3 supplementation taken during or just before Covid-19 was associated with less severe
Covid-19 and better survival rate. No other treatment showed protective effect.

Vitamin D3 supplementation may represent an effective, accessible and well-tolerated treatment for Covid-19, the incidence of which increases dramatically and for which there are currently no validated treatments.

This 2020 study says: In this retrospective, observational analysis of deidentified test results from a clinical laboratory, a Quest Diagnostics-wide unique patient identifier was used to match all results of SARS-CoV-2 testing performed March 9 through June 19, 2020, with 25(OH)D results from the preceding 12 months.

Analysis was limited to one SARS-CoV-2 result per patient; patients were considered to have a positive SARS-CoV-2 result if any test result indicated positivity.

When multiple 25(OH) D results were available, the most recent was selected. We excluded specimens with inconclusive results (one out of two SARS-CoV-2 targets detected) or missing residential zip code data, which are needed to assign race/ethnicity proportions and latitude.

What kinds of vitamin D dietary supplements are available?

The two forms of vitamin D in supplements are D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Both forms increase vitamin D in your blood, but D3 might raise it higher and for longer than D2. Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, it is best absorbed when taken with a meal or snack that includes some fat.
Source: US Office of Dietary Supplements

So, why are we not being advised to supplement sufficiently?

In response to a written Dáil question in November 2020 about Vitamin supplementation, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, said “the consistent guidance from the international bodies referenced above [WHO and CDC] is that there is as yet insufficient data to support the use of either Vitamin D or zinc in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.”

Note: This article provides information only and does not constitute medical advice.

Tommy Roche’s cancer information website is cancerireland.ie

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