Can vitamin D reduce the risk of influenza and COVID-19 infections? An article in Nutrients says yes and recommends taking vitamin D as a preventive measure.
The whole world is currently in a fight against the coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, very drastic measures have been introduced to protect the population. The aim is to reduce the risk of infection and death. But more and more voices are being raised that other measures are urgently needed in addition. Could these perhaps even be comparatively quite simple and inexpensive?
Vitamin D crucial for immune defense
I firmly believe that sufficiently high levels of vitamin D are absolutely critical for a well-functioning immune system and have pointed this out time and again. It is well known that vitamin D can reduce the risk of infection. First, it does so by secreting cathelicidins (antimicrobial peptides and part of the innate immune response) and defense mechanisms that can lower viral replication. Furthermore, vitamin D lowers the concentration of proinflammatory cytokines, which can cause inflammation, damage the lung mucosa, and trigger pneumonia. Furthermore, it could be that vitamin D also increases the concentration of anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Vitamin D reduces risk of infection
An article in Nutrients(https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/4/988) explores the question of whether vitamin D lowers the risk of respiratory infections and comes to some intriguing conclusions. Several studies (though not all) would have reported that vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of influenza (flu). What clearly suggests that vitamin D lowers the risk of COVID -19 disease are the following circumstances:
- The outbreak of the pandemic occurred in our country in winter. This is when the vitamin D concentration in the blood has been shown to be at its lowest.
- In the southern hemisphere, the number of cases of the disease was low because vitamin D concentrations there saturated toward the end of the summer. People had time throughout the summer to replenish their body’s vitamin D stores with the help of sunlight.
- Severe courses and deaths were most common in chronically ill and elderly patients, who also have low vitamin D levels.
At least 5000 IU daily
To reduce the risk of infection, the authors of the article recommend taking 5000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. People at risk for influenza and/or COVID-19 are recommended to take 10 000 IU daily for a few weeks to rapidly increase vitamin D levels. I stand behind these recommendations wholeheartedly. The goal is to raise vitamin D levels above 60-80 ng/ml (150-200 nmol/l) and thus maintain them. Above 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day, I also recommend taking 200 µg of vitamin K2 daily. Even higher doses of vitamin D3 may be needed to treat people who already have COVID-19.
Omega-3 fatty acids also help
Those who want to additionally strengthen their immune system should pay attention to an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids.