Vitamin D plays an essential role in the immune system. Our bodies have an innate immune system and it’s the body’s first line of defense. Full conversion of vitamin D in the body takes approximately 7 days.
Vitamin D enhances the production of neutrophils and macrophages. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that helps heal damaged tissues and resolve infections. Macrophages are specialized cells involved in the detection and destruction of bacteria and harmful organisms in the body.
Cathelicidin, a peptide formed by vitamin D, has shown antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi and enveloped viruses, such as the corona viruses.
A recent vitamin D study demonstrated that in 20 European countries, an association exists between low levels of vitamin D and higher numbers of Covid-19 cases and mortality. Vitamin D levels are found to be severely low for the older population.
Another study (there are so many to support this) found a direct correlation between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of severe COVID-19 events. Much more attention should be paid to the importance of vitamin D for the development and course of this disease.
Something to keep in mind is the skin’s natural vitamin D synthesis is reduced when people have few opportunities to be exposed to the sun. The short half-life of the vitamin therefore make an increasing vitamin D deficiency more likely. Supplementation and fortified foods (think green leafy veggies) can help prevent this deficiency. Vitamin D and vitamin K are essential, fat soluble nutrients, so taking together kills tow birds with one stone!
There are other reasons to get your vitamin D. The vitamin is also directly associated with increased risk of many chronic conditions, to include: Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety disorders, and dementia.
It’s always important to ensure we get enough vitamin D, but during times like now – with COVID-19 spreading worldwide, it’s critical and certainly a factor of life or death for some people.
For most people, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 600 IU (international units) per day.
However it is considered safe to take oral vitamin D supplementation at doses up to 10,000 IU/day for short periods, particularly in older adults, i.e. a population that is mostly affected by COVID-19. As with all things like this, always consult your physician before increasing a supplement like this.