All over the newspapers, as though it is a miraculous revelation, you’re reading that vitamin D levels just might be linked to the way that people respond to infection with COVID-19. Those who have suffered the highest complication rates have the lowest levels of vitamin D.
The latest bombshell came from researchers Dr. Eamon Laird and Professor Rose Anne Kenny, both from the School of Medicine at Trinity College, Dublin and colleagues from the University of Liverpool and elsewhere, after publishing an article in the Irish Medical Journal, analyzing 20 years’ worth of European adult population studies.
The researchers found a statistically significant association between areas with the lowest levels of vitamin D and highest death rates from COVID-19.
For instance, Spain and Italy, despite being southern European countries with more exposure to sunlight than the northern countries, have high rates of vitamin D deficiency. And both countries suffered a high rate of infection from coronavirus.
And despite exposure to less sunlight, a number of northern countries like Norway, Denmark and Finland, which have recorded fewer deaths from the virus, have turned out to have higher levels of vitamin D from supplements and fortified foods.
Vitamin D and an immune system storm
The connection between vitamin D and the severity of the disease was bolstered by Northwestern University’s recent discovery that COVID-19 patients with severe vitamin D deficiencies are twice as likely to experience major complications.
Most significantly, the researchers found a major correlation between low levels of the vitamin and the likelihood of a cytokine ‘storm,’ a hyper-inflammatory immune system response exhibited by many COVID-19 patients, where the immune system essentially begins attacking the lungs.
Cytokines, in case you still don’t understand the term, are small proteins secreted by cells in the immune system involved in communication between cells, among other functions.
In a cytokine storm, too many of these little proteins pour into the blood too quickly like an autoimmune nuclear war.
A cytokine storm and the damage caused to the lungs is what leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome and multiple organ failure, and what ultimately kills the patient.
Why is vitamin D so central to the severity of COVID-19 infection? For years, the conventional medical view was that vitamin D was simply important in building and maintaining bones.
But more recently we’re discovering that vitamin D – which is a hormone, not a vitamin at all – is fundamental to maintaining the body’s health, particularly the immune system.
Vitamin D is involved in initial stages of gene expression, and one of its roles is the control of genes involved in producing antimicrobial agents such as cathelicidin, which fights off harmful microbes, like bacteria or viruses Microbiol Spectr, 2016 Jun;4(3).
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to respiratory illnesses, such as severe cases of adult asthma (Respir Res, 2013;14:25) and infectious lung disease like tuberculosis (Emerg Infect Dis, 2010;16:853-5).
We also know that vitamin D is involved to help regulate the production inflammatory cytokines and to inhibit an explosion of inflammatory cells, both involved in the development of severe inflammation (J Inflamm Res, 2014;7:69-87).
Researchers have noted the high percentage of patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms who have diabetes. Another central role of vitamin D is to stimulate the production of insulin, and diabetes results when your body doesn’t produce enough – or indeed any – insulin (J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 2016 Dec 5).
Vitamin D comes from two sources: our diet and the sun. Vitamin D3 gets created in the outer layer of our skin when it is exposed to UVB solar radiation.
Otherwise, we have to get our vitamin D from dietary sources such as fatty fish like salmon or herring, or supplements. This then gets transformed by the liver and kidneys into calcitriol, the bioactive form, which then gets picked up and used for many of the body’s organs and processes.
The role of vitamin D in all aspects of biology that have lately been linked to COVID-19 severity has been well known, in many cases for years. They should hardly be revelatory.
Just join up the dots here.
One: low levels of vitamin D are linked to COVID death and severity of disease, respiratory illness, diabetes and the likelihood of a cytokine storm – all risk factors for death by COVID.
Two: the body’s main source of vitamin D is the sun.
Three, the obvious question: if vitamin D levels are one of the main factors that determine the difference between a mild response to the virus and a life-threatening cytokine storm, why on earth are we limiting the amount of time that people can go outdoors?
Why did Spain and Italy, with their low levels of vitamin D among the population, force their citizens to stay indoors, even without exercise, for months?
Why have governments allowed policemen to fine, chase away and in some instances even shoot people who were trying to get some sun and fresh air?
D isn’t just for duh. D is for downright dumb.
For information about how much vitamin D and other supplements that could help prevent the worse corona virus symptoms, check out our free webinar: Supercharging Yourself against Coronavirus: www.getwell.solutions
We’re still joining a few of those dots that seem to be eluding the people who damn well should know better.