Vitamin D may protect against COVID-19, improve survival outcomes
LOMA LINDA, California, December 23, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Several studies show a correlation between Vitamin D levels and COVID-19.
According to a now viral interview with Professor Roger Seheult of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, several studies show that people with higher amounts of Vitamin D in their blood are less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than people with Vitamin D deficiency. Another study has shown that COVID-positive patients treated with hydroxylated Vitamin D were less likely to need admittance to ICU than COVID-positive patients in the placebo group. Still another study showed that COVID-positive patients treated with Vitamin D were more likely to be COVID-negative in 21 days than their counterparts in the placebo group.
The lively hour-long lecture, produced by Seheult’s own MedCram online medical lectures company, has had over 2,329,000 views since its debut on December 10.
“Vitamin D and COVID-19: The Evidence for Prevention and Treatment of Coronavirus” argues that evidence is growing that Vitamin D is a “therapeutic agent.” It explains that Vitamin D, as well as being one of the organic compounds needed for sustaining life, is a steroid hormone. This means that it changes the way cells in the body behave.
There are two ways to get Vitamin D into our bodies, where it is hydroxylated — that is, turned into into calcifediol (also known as calcidiol or 25[OH]D3), its biologically active form. We can eat Vitamin D — sources include cod liver oil, some kinds of mushrooms, egg yolks, red meat, and dietary supplements — and we can get it through our skin from the sun. Changed into calcifediol, it is stored in our fat, and when it is needed, it bolsters our immune systems.
Unfortunately, most people who live above the 35th Parallel don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun, especially in winter. This may be why there are more viral infections in the winter, the video explains. For over a century, studies have suggested that Vitamin D deficiency increases our “susceptibility to infection.” For example, one study shows that there is an increased risk of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in children with rickets, a form of pathological Vitamin D deficiency.
Before digging into studies discussing Vitamin D and COVID-19, the video presents an interesting correlation between groups most at risk for Vitamin D deficiency and those most at risk for COVID-19: they seem to be the same people. As you age, your skin is less able to absorb Vitamin D from the sun, and elderly people are more at risk from COVID-19. COVID-19 also seems to disproportionately target black people in Britain and the USA, and in the USA, at least, the number of people who are most deficient in Vitamin D are also disproportionately black. Obesity, too, plays a role in Vitamin D deficiency and susceptibility to COVID-19.
The video stresses that correlation is not causation, but the studies it first examines seem powerful arguments for topping up one’s Vitamin D levels all the same. One particularly impressive British study did a “meta-analysis” of several pre-COVID studies that showed that Vitamin D, taken as a daily or weekly supplement, does seem to reduce the risk of respiratory illness. A 2010 Japanese study of 334 children showed that only 10% of the children given 1,200 international units (IU) of Vitamin D got Influenza A afterward, whereas 18.6 percent of the children given the placebo got the flu. This, Professor Seheult said, was “statistically significant.”
Seheult then discusses the role Vitamin D may play in preventing and ameliorating COVID-19. After reviewing the information that COVID-19, like Vitamin D deficiency, is of a higher risk to older people, obese people, and “darker skinned races,” he noted that a population’s death toll from the coronavirus increases when it is above the 35th North Parallel. (This is not true of Nordic countries, he adds, but use of Vitamin D supplements is widespread there.) Italy and Spain, surprisingly enough, have a high prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency.
The professor then presents several studies involving Vitamin D levels and COVID-19 cases. A study in May 2020 examined 20 European countries, the average Vitamin D levels in the populace, their COVID-19 cases, and their COVID-19 mortality rate. It discovered that the higher the Vitamin D level per country, the lower the number of cases of COVID-19. The results were “similar” for national Vitamin D levels compared to COVID-19 mortalities. An American study of 191,779 people also showed that higher levels of Vitamin D meant fewer people testing positive for COVID-19. Similarly, a British study of 105 patients in hospital with COVID-19 symptoms showed that Vitamin D levels were lower in the patients who tested positive for COVID-19 and higher in those who tested negative. This study also showed that the lowest levels of Vitamin D also correlated to the COVID-19-positive patients’ risk of developing blood clots.
In answer to those who suggest that COVID-19 itself may be responsible for lowering patients’ Vitamin D levels, Seheult presented some interesting studies in which Vitamin D’s effects on COVID patients were directly investigated. One study of 76 COVID-19 patients tested the effects of calcifediol and noted that only 2% of the intervention group had to be admitted to the ICU, whereas of the placebo group, a full 50% had to go there. A French study looked at the outcomes of COVID-19 patients from nursing homes, comparing those who had received a large dose of Vitamin D a month before becoming ill to those who had not. Those who received the Vitamin D were more likely to survive.
The evidence seems to show that one massive dose of Vitamin D does not help COVID-19 patients, whereas regular large daily doses, administered over a week, seem to. Meanwhile, another study recommended the “mass administration of Vitamin D supplements to populations at risk for COVID-19.”
The last eleven minutes of the lecture focus on Vitamin D supplements, national Vitamin D supplement programs (in commercially produced milk, for example), the issue of Vitamin D toxicity, and the role body weight plays in Vitamin D supplements’ effectiveness. Apparently, overweight and obese people need more of them to raise the calcifediol in their blood than people of a “normal weight.”
Seheult feels “strongly” that almost everyone should take Vitamin D supplements in winter. He suggests that viewers ask their physicians’ advice about how much they should take. There are some people with severe medical conditions who really shouldn’t take supplements without taking their own doctors’ advice.
According to a 2017 article (republished in 2019) by Harvard Medical School, taking more than 4,000 IU of Vitamin D is “potentially unsafe.”
LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here.