“Normal” levels could mean a lowered risk of infection—and death—by up to 16 percent! Here’s a look at what “optimal” levels could do…
Vitamin D is quite possibly the most essential nutrient there is—one that’s crucial to so many of our bodies’ vital processes. And its role in immune and respiratory health is particularly valuable now, in the age of coronavirus, more than ever.
Not least of all because, as states begin to “re-open” again, the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 infections is very real. So, as we ease our way back into even the faintest semblance of normalcy, the proper precautions could make a critical difference.
That’s why I’m thrilled to see that, thanks to some new research making the rounds, the world is finally paying attention to the healing powers of vitamin D…
Your best defense in the age of coronavirus
The latest study comes from researchers at Northwestern University. It found that the risk of severe COVID-19 infection was nearly 16 percent lower among patients with normal levels of vitamin D, compared to deficient levels.1
And get this—other research notes that, even though they’re sunnier countries, Spain and Northern Italy had high rates of vitamin D deficiency. (And, as you know, these countries have suffered some of the highest rates of COVID-19 infection and death in the world.)
Meanwhile, countries further north, like Norway, Finland, and Sweden, had higher levels of vitamin D—despite a much lower level of sun exposure. (And lower levels of COVID-19 infection and death to go with it.2)
Why? Presumably, because the folks up north are encouraged to take vitamin D supplements to make up for their lack of sun exposure.
Now, you know how I feel about vitamin D… it’s always been the main supplement I’ve recommended for helping to build natural defenses against any virus. And that’s specifically because of the powerful role it plays in lowering inflammation and modulating the immune system.
This is important, because extreme inflammatory reactions called “cytokine storms” can be lethal. And guess what? They have been implicated in the most serious cases of COVID-19.
Calming the cytokine storm
The Northwestern researchers used patient data to establish a strong link between vitamin D levels and inflammatory cytokine storms, caused by a hyperreactive immune system.
Most notably, they point out that these cytokine storms—not the virus itself—are what destroy the lungs and cause acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients. Which means that, ultimately, it’s a misfiring immune system that becomes lethal.
That’s precisely where vitamin D comes in: It boosts your innate immune system. (This is your first line of defense against any pathogen—viral or bacterial.) But it also prevents overreactions—which are more likely to arise from acquired, or adaptive, immune responses—offering two-pronged support in the face of severe COVID-19 complications.
In other words, vitamin D won’t keep you from contracting the virus. (Only social distancing, mask-wearing, and above all, routine handwashing can help with that that.) But it could lessen the severity, and support your overall health, if you do get infected.
In fact, this latest analysis suggests that healthy vitamin D levels might be enough to cut mortality rates in half.
It might also offer one reason why children are so much less likely to die from COVID-19, compared to adults. Their bodies rely almost entirely on innate immunity for protection, since their acquired immunity hasn’t yet had a chance to fully develop.
So, in my view, you really can’t make a stronger case for vitamin D supplementation. But, as usual, there’s no counting on the rest of the world to use this kind of common sense.
Obviously, I’m pleased to see a study like this at least making press. And I’m even more pleased to see governments actually using it to inform their recommendations—most notably, Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), which was among the first to call for citizens to ramp up their intake of vitamin D.
They’ve even gone so far as to recommend that everyone should supplement with vitamin D (not just at-risk groups) during this ongoing pandemic. But not because of the latest research findings… rather, they state that due to quarantine measures, people won’t be able to absorb what they need from the sun. Needless to say, this gave me a good laugh—on several levels.
For starters, have you ever been to the U.K.? They’re not exactly known for their sunny weather. In fact, they are at such a high latitude that the sun doesn’t come close to providing a sufficient supply of vitamin D until these high summer months, anyway.
But even then, the odds really aren’t in your favor. And let me explain why…
Sunshine isn’t good enough
Keep in mind that, in order to get the necessary amount of vitamin D in your body, you must expose most of your skin to the sun for at least 20 minutes daily—with no sunscreen. (We’re talking about bathing or birthday suits here, folks.)
Even then, you’d also have to live in South Florida or the very Southern part of Texas to really be able to rely on the sun for your vitamin D. Otherwise, you absolutely must take a vitamin D supplement daily.
And you need a lot more than the measly 400 IU the NHS is recommending every day (which, for the record, is also the same as our Recommended Daily Allowance [RDA] here in the U.S.). Because a “sufficient” dose just isn’t good enough when it comes to vitamin D. Especially in the middle of a global health crisis.
I always recommend at least 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily—and most people will need more than that to reach optimal levels. (I’ll circle back around to that in just one moment.)
I personally take 10,000 IU daily myself—year-round. And as long as your blood levels are screened regularly, that’s a perfectly safe—and in many cases, necessary—dosage to get you where you need to be.
Which brings me to another point…
Adequate versus optimal
If you watch the news at all, you may have also noticed all the researchers and clinicians out there advising people to have their levels tested before they even consider “taking their chances” with a vitamin D supplement.
But let me tell you something: In my entire career—over the course of 30 years—I have only ever had two patients with optimal levels of vitamin D before they started supplementing.
And let’s not forget… there’s a big difference between “adequate” levels and “optimal” levels. Most mainstream doctors consider a level of 30 ng/mL to be “adequate”. But this will only save your bones from disintegrating. Whereas levels between 80 to 90 ng/mL are “optimal”—because that’s where all the health benefits kick in.
So, whatever you do, don’t skimp on your D supplementation. Start by having your vitamin D 25 OH blood level checked. Then, I always recommend a daily dose of at least 2,000 to 5,000 IU. But for lower blood levels, I normally recommend 10,000 IU daily. (Just be sure to consult with your doctor and have your levels checked every six months to ensure you’re maintaining optimal levels.)
Supplements for stalwart immunity in any season
In addition to vitamin D, I recommend a handful of other supplements to help keep your immune system firing on all cylinders—during every cold and flu (and coronavirus) season, and year-round.
Those include 1,000 mg of BRM-4, 1,000 mg of vitamin C three times per day, and a high-quality probiotic (like Dr. Ohhira’s) every single day.
And if you start to feel something coming on? Obviously, you’ll want to call your doctor right away. But this is what I do at the first inkling that I may be getting sick—and I haven’t suffered a full-blown illness in decades:
- Vitamin D—1,250 mcg (50,000 IU) for two days
- Vitamin A (as retinol)—12,000 mcg (40,000 IU) for two days
- Olive leaf extract—500 mg three times per day for two days
- Oil of oregano—500 mg three times per day for two days
If you’d like to learn more about my top immune health recommendations, I encourage you to take a look at my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity. To learn more about this special report, click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV1W700.
- Daneshkhah A, et al. The Possible Role of Vitamin D in Suppressing Cytokine Storm and Associated Mortality in COVID-19 Patients. medRxiv, Posted April 30, 2020;
- Laird E, et al. Vitamin D and Inflammation: Potential Implications for Severity of Covid-19. Irish Medical Journal, 2020; 113 (5): P81