Covid-19 vaccines and boosters are said to be the most effective ways to avoid getting and spreading the new coronavirus. Vaccines may also reduce the health effects of a breakthrough infection. Despite this, many Americans with and without the vaccine have been looking for natural ways to boost their immune system and lower their risk of contracting the disease. Based on studies, taking vitamin D may be one way to do so.
What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D, or “calciferol,’ is a fat-soluble nutrient found in foods and dietary supplements. The skin also makes the nutrient after adequate exposure to sunlight. Adults need anywhere between 15 mcg (600 IU) to 20 mcg (800 IU) daily, although an upper limit of 100 mcg (4000 IU) is considered safe.
Vitamin D supports overall health, but its main role is helping with calcium absorption to promote strong bones and muscles. Although vital for health, many Americans usually need to take vitamin D supplements to avoid reduced immunity and other medical conditions caused by a deficiency.
How Can Vitamin D Help During COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that comes from a larger family of coronaviruses. The virus can cause long-term damage to the lungs, heart, and brain, which can lead to chronic health problems. It also weakens the immune system by altering immune cells. If you’re planning to increase your vitamin D intake, here are some potential benefits.
Can Lower the Risk of COVID Infection
There’s evidence that daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of acute respiratory infection caused by influenza and coronavirus. Multiple studies looked at vitamin D levels and the link to getting COVID. According to one study, people with low levels of vitamin D had a greater chance of testing positive for COVID-19. Being a Black person further increased the risk.
Can Fight off Coronavirus
Vitamin D helps the immune system form and regulate inflammation, so it can fight off viruses and harmful bacteria. It also protects against respiratory tract infections and autoimmune diseases. In addition, researchers found that the nutrient has anti-inflammatory effects on COVID-19 patients. The protective effect comes from the vitamin’s ability to reduce the inflammatory markers of COVID-19.
May Reduce the Severity of COVID-19 Infection
High blood pressure and heart disease are among pre-existing conditions that increase a person’s risk of COVID-19. The disease can also cause high blood pressure in patients without a prior history of hypertension. Having adequate levels of vitamin D may help keep blood pressure within normal ranges and reduce the effects of the disease on the heart. There’s also evidence the nutrient may play a role in reducing the severity of the disease.
The Bottom Line
COVID-19 continues to be a serious health threat. Although research suggests vitamin D may reduce the risk of COVID-19, there’s currently not enough evidence to support the claim that taking vitamin D supplements alone can prevent or treat the disease. Other precautions need to be taken, including wearing masks, frequently washing hands, social distancing, avoiding crowds, and getting vaccinated.