Vitamin D – Important for COVID-19, Plus Concerns About Toxicity
Vitamin D gets a lot of publicity.
It has for a while, not only during these COVID times.
Still, in our society, we tend to build things up to then knock it down.
In a recent article in the New York Post, consuming vitamin D to prevent or co-manage COVID-19 infections was downplayed. Other news outlets jumped on trivializing the vitamin D bandwagon.
These utterly misinformed news platforms quoted “experts” in saying,
“Although there is some evidence that low vitamin D is associated with acute respiratory tract infections, there is currently insufficient evidence for vitamin D as a treatment for COVID-19. Over-supplementing must be avoided as it could be harmful.”
Allow me to share with you how ridiculous this statement is…
Vitamin D strengthens innate immunity and prevents overactive immune responses. That’s key.
An overactive immune response, which leads to a cytokine storm, is precisely why people with COVID-19 die.
Vitamin D, at higher blood levels, may prevent a cytokine storm.
Almost all who die from COVID-19 in the Philippines are vitamin D Deficient.
Two groups of people who make the majority of deaths from COVID-19 are the elderly and blacks.
Blacks and older people are notoriously deficient in vitamin D.
Interestingly, Scandinavian countries have the lowest incidences of COVID-19 mortality. They also consume cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements and possibly less sun avoidance. While it is difficult to conclude their lower COVID rates are due to healthier levels of vitamin D, such possibility should not be overlooked.
Further, several years ago, before these COVID days, a study looking at randomized trials showed that people with low vitamin D levels had a higher probability of having and dying from acute respiratory infections compared with those with normal vitamin D levels.
IS VITAMIN D TOXIC?
“Over-supplementing must be avoided as it could be harmful.” – New York Post
“Ok, Ok, I get it,” you are saying, “vitamin D is important for protection against viral infections, but is it safe?”
Let me be clear here; all the safety concerns about vitamin D potential toxicity is unwarranted. (“unwarranted” is not the exact word I was thinking)
The upper level recommended dose with vitamin D is 4000 units a day. I usually provide patients with 5000 to 10,000 units a day of vitamin D.
In news outlets, these dosages are considered “mega-doses.” But are they? Is all that fear-mongering worthy?
Everything has a poisonous dose. EVERYTHING!
That includes drinking too much water, which can cause a coma and can be deadly. I am not kidding.
“All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; the dose alone permits something to be poisonous.” – Paracelsus, 16th century
There are two separate case reports of two men consuming very high doses of vitamin D due to manufacturing error.
The nutritional supplement was supposed to contain about 1600 IU of vitamin D.
For context, most multivitamins contain about 400 IU of vitamin D. Standalone vitamin D can range from 1000 IU a pill to 10,000 IU a pill.
Recommendations from nutritionally oriented physicians can be up to 10,000 IU a day.
In the case report, the two men consumed 1,000,000 IU (one million units) a day for three weeks before developing symptoms strong enough to seek care.
Amazingly, none of these men died from an extraordinary and unfathomable amount of vitamin D consumption.
Symptoms of extreme vitamin D toxicity (which would never happen under normal circumstances) include unexplained fatigue, nausea, excess urination, and blood in the urine.
MY TAKE AND WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WITH VITAMIN D
Almost all the information you read has the disclaimer of speaking to your doctors if you are thinking of taking high amounts of vitamin D.
The problem is that most doctors are as confused about vitamin D as patients. That’s likely because there’s virtually no nutritional training in medical schools.
Seeing a functional medicine or naturopathic doctor might be a good idea.
Another line we read that may discourage one from taking vitamin D is that the studies show correlation but not causation.
This is true. In other words, a randomized trial looking at vitamin D versus placebo to show if it’s beneficial for health has not been conducted.
The simplest randomized trials cause millions of dollars.
Observational studies ( and clinical experience) hold value, especially when the substance in question is relatively safe.
I suggest taking enough vitamin D where blood test comes up between 40 and 60ng/ml.
To get in that range, an amount between 4000 IU and 10,000 IU is required.
The upside to taking a tiny, inexpensive pill of vitamin D is immense.
While vitamin D is not a cure-all, no one substance is the benefit outweighs the risk.
Vitamin D supplementation may indeed protect against COVID-19 and most viral infections. But that’s not all.
Having healthy levels of vitamin D in the body reduces the risk of dying prematurely from any disease-related cause.
As an aside, another upside (pun) to taking vitamin D. A systemic review on this vital nutrient shows that ample amounts help with erectile dysfunction.
Lastly, be super cautious about where you get your health information from. I think the internet and some news media do a good job delivering good, actionable information. Others not as much. There are a plethora of media platforms competing for your attention. And headlining anything about vitamins like vitamin D draws attention.