Natural Antiviral Protection: The Importance of Vitamin D
During these times of uncertainty, there is one thing you can be certain of – your body was designed to handle viral pandemics. I know this is a hard time. It’s a time for us to be level-headed, open-hearted, and focused on what we can do to protect ourselves, our families, our communities, and our country. But I believe this time is also a wakeup call, not just for Americans, but for all of humanity to place more priority into their health.
The unfortunate reality is that those most susceptible to infection and complications from the coronavirus are those who have underlying chronic health conditions and consume medications on a daily basis. The question my patients, friends, and family are asking is “What can we do”? My answer: Pay significant attention to the strengthening of your immune system AND share what you have learned, and will learn, about how to do that with others.
Over the weekend, I read some articles from Dr. Roger Sehuelt, MD, a practicing pulmonologist in California who has become an advocate of boosting protection against the coronavirus by paying close attention to your vitamin D levels. While vitamin D itself does not appear to have a direct effect on coronavirus, it does, however, according to Dr. Sehuelt, strengthen immune system function and prevent infection from viral-induced respiratory conditions, thus allowing your body to combat the virus and other health issues more effectively.
As explained by Dr. Seheult, robust immune function is required for your body to combat the virus, but, equally as important is avoiding an over-activated immune system which is also responsible for the cytokine storm now seen in COVID-19 infection that can lead to death.
“What we want is a smart immune system,” Seheult says, “an immune system that takes care of the virus but doesn’t put us in an inflammatory condition that could put a person on a ventilator.”
Vitamin D Supplementation Cuts Respiratory Infection Rates – The Importance of Knowing Your Numbers
Do you know what your Vitamin D levels are? Transparently, the majority of patients who initially test with us are severely deficient, with levels below the optimal range for full immune support – between 80-100ng/ml. Multiple studies have shown that there is an association between low vitamin D levels and susceptibility to all viral infections, including the flu – which, similar to coronavirus, is also a respiratory illness.
Histories largest pandemic, the Spanish Flu of 1918, taught us one thing about innate immunity and vitamin D – there were significantly higher infection and death rates for those living in northern latitudes (implying less amount of sunlight and a lower concentration of UV light needed to stimulate Vitamin D production) as well as greater numbers of people dying during the winter months than in the summer months.
COVID-19 began at the tail end of winter and it’s too early to see if seasonality will affect it, but given that the majority of Americans struggle to maintain proper vitamin D levels it’s possible that your current D levels could predict your susceptibility (especially if your levels are below 30 ng/ml).
A study published in the International Journal of Molecular science found that those with severe vitamin D deficiency who took a daily or weekly supplement for a longer duration cut their respiratory infection risk in half (50%). Those with higher baseline levels also lowered their risk, albeit to a lesser extent – speculation from the researchers as they were already partially resistant. Interestingly, the researchers found that short term administration of high bolus doses of vitamin D had little no significant impact on infection risk – suggesting that it’s the consistent stimulation over time that Vitamin D offers its strongest immune effects.
It’s very important to know where your Vitamin D3 levels are – if you are uncertain I highly suggest you have a blood test drawn to find out. Most adults need 5,000-10,000 IU daily (and don’t forget the research shows it must be constantly taken daily for several months to have its full effect, vs just taking it all at once to “catch up”) – now is the time to begin! Most children need between 2-5,000 IU daily.
In this uncertain time, if we all stay calm, avoid the pandemic of fear, follow our common senses using the knowledge we have on how to nourish our health with diet, exercise, chiropractic and supportive supplements we can take care ourselves and our families which will allow you to weather this “storm” and dramatically reduce sickness and death overall.
This is the time to come together as humans, and as a society to combat this pandemic using holistic techniques so we can show the world where real health comes from – within our inborn innate immune strength – as opposed to outside vaccinating or medicating an already weakened immune system.