Throughout these recent months, a monumental amount of information regarding various measures to treat or prevent COVID-19 is rapidly coming forth. Unfortunately, many of the nutritional advice or suggestions are in the areas of “megadosing” micro-nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. The validity of most, if not all, of the recommendations, is not substantiated by evidence-based studies. However, a significant degree of this misinformation is streaming daily on social media increases the risk of potential physiological harm rather than benefits. This pattern makes it extremely difficult for the average population, not knowing what to believe and trust. More often than not, out of fear and anxiety about the virus, people are inclined to think. Thus, many want to be proactive and choose to follow these unproven costly measures feeling they do not have any other recourse. Many of the questions patients are asking during MNT consultations are related to these social media preventative suggestions. At that point, my door of opportunity opens to separate facts from friction based on evidence-based research.
One particular suggestive preventative measure high on my radar involves the correlation between Vitamin D and COVID-19. Claims circulate the usage of a high dosage of Vitamin D, which can prevent or treat COVID-19. One of the contributing basis for this is a study in Clinical and Experimental Immunology indicating Vitamin D inhibits pulmonary inflammatory responses. Also, it can boost the immune system to fight against respiratory pathogens. Therefore, the study results show a negative or positive effect on the immune system and lung function, depending on the amount of circulating vitamin D levels. As a result, it is only a presumption and general speculation that high doses of Vitamin D will prevent or treat COVID-19. Currently, there is not any supportive scientific evidence research to support or substantiate this claim. Nonetheless, since there is a correlation with Vitamin D and the lungs, there are studies currently in progress directly looking at the effects of Vitamin D on COVID-19.
Some ask if vitamin D supplements a good idea to boost the immune system?. Yes, only if your serum Vitamin D level is low. Each year part of my annual physical exam includes a measure of serum Vitamin D level. Oddly, growing up in Texas with year-round sunshine, serum Vitamin D levels are not quite the same as they are in Michigan. Also, compounding the fact of self- isolation due to the pandemic decreases sun exposure even more as I require a Vitamin D supplement to maintain my level within a healthy range. Normal serum Vitamin D Levels are in the field of 30 ng/ml or higher, and some populations consider 20 ng/ml or higher to be healthy. Supplementation is dependent upon deficient levels, and if there is no deficiency, there is no need for supplementation. An average supplement should be in the range of 400-800 IU or 10-20 micrograms. However, for those who cannot get outside with safe sun exposure or consume foods high in Vitamin D, a supplement of 1,000 IU or 2,000 per day is acceptable. I must reiterate there is no evidence to suggest very high doses of vitamin D can prevent or treat COVID-19. Nevertheless, Vitamin D is essential and crucial for the maintenance of musculoskeletal and other health benefits.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin D is 600-800 IU. The most efficient way to achieve your daily intake is through foods such as:
- Salmon-3.5 oz. wild salmon = 988 IU
- Herring and sardines 3.5 oz = 216 IU.
- Canned tuna 3.5 oz = 268 IU
- Egg yolks 1 = 37 IU
- Fortified Cow’s Milk 1 cup = 115-130 IU
- Soymilk 1 cup = 107 IU
- Fortified Cereals Oatmeal ½ cup = 54-136 IU.
Knowledge is power. Doing this time of doubt, anxiety, and fear is vital for information to get out; however, it must be evidence-based and not misleading. I am sharing with you the misinformation regarding the Weak Leak surrounding Vitamin D and COVID-19.