An estimated one billion people around the world lack vitamin D, which increases their risk of COVID-19 infections and new strains of the virus that become complicated and potentially life-threatening. In November 2020, the authorities of Andalusia, a Spanish province, started giving vulnerable groups of people supplements of a particularly active form of vitamin D. The result of this intervention showed quickly. The number of patients in intensive care plummeted and the death rate dropped by 82 percent. Meanwhile, the death rate in Great Britain and many other countries went up, most likely because vitamin D deficiencies are more common during the winter period. A British politician has therefore urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to follow the Andalusian method, which is both effective and inexpensive. Furthermore, a Spanish study shows that supplementing hospitalized COVID-19 patients with active vitamin D can save lives. How much vitamin D do we need and how does the body activate vitamin D from sun exposure or from supplements?
Vaccines are being touted as our most powerful weapon in the battle against COVID-19, yet they are not sufficiently effective when it comes to protecting against new virus strains because RNA viruses like COVID-19 can easily mutate. We must also bolster our immune defense that is designed to attack many different microorganisms. Vitamin D, which our skin produces when we spend time in the sun during the summer period plays a key role in several ways, and it stands to reason that we experience new corona waves when it is winter. Older people, dark-skinned individuals, chronically ill, and nursing home residents also risk being permanently vitamin D-deficient and that makes them vulnerable all year round.
Politics, vitamin D, and new strategies for fighting COVID-19
In England, the conservative parliament member, David Davis, has urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to follow “the Andalusian method” in the battle against COVID-19 because vitamin D has been shown to make a significant difference.
David Davis points to the fact that around eight million people live in the Andalusia. In November 2020, there were 189 deaths per 1,000,000,000 inhabitants – which at that point was a higher death rate than in England. A rapid effect was seen after the Andalusians started giving nursing home residents and certain groups of patients supplements of an active form of vitamin D called calcifediol. Far fewer people were put in intensive care and the death rate dropped to 11 people in the beginning of January, which is an 82 percent reduction. Meanwhile, the death rate in England doubled, probably due to the increasing vitamin D deficiency problem during the winter period
David Davis also mentions that for decades, doctors and scientists have warned against the global vitamin D deficiency problem that is believed to affect around one billion people. These warning flags are still being ignored and were even ignored long before WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March last year.
In the ongoing battle against this catastrophe, governments worldwide have introduced numerous lockdowns that come with an enormous price tag – not just in terms of finances but also in terms of mental health. Lockdowns even limit our individual freedom, and many other diseases and subsequent deaths may follow in the wake of closed-down societies and health care systems that don’t operate and function properly.
On earlier occasions, David Davis has suggested vitamin D supplementation for vulnerable groups. He now suggests giving calcifediol, the active form of vitamin D, to nursing home residents. Calcifediol is also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and is the form of vitamin D that is measured in blood. It is the form of vitamin D that the body utilizes the best and the fastest. The intervention is inexpensive and has no side effects plus it strengthens the immune defense against a variety of coronavirus types and other pathogens.
New studies are on their way
David Davis has been heavily criticized because the Andalusian method has not quite met the normal scientific standards for randomized, controlled studies. For instance, the group of 551 individuals that got calcifediol and the control group of 379 were not properly balanced.
Professor Adrian Martineau from Queen Mary University of London therefore calls for more randomized, controlled studies of vitamin D, although he did actually head a meta-analysis where vitamin D supplements were shown to lower the number of acute respiratory infections by up to 42 percent. And he is currently conducting a large randomized, clinical study called CORONAVIT that is looking into vitamin D and COVID-19.
Vitamin D supplementation of COVID-19 patients reduces the number of intensive care patients and the death rate
As mentioned earlier, vitamin D supplements have a prophylactic effect on COVID-19 infections and related deaths. Treating COVID-19 patients with high-dosed vitamin D supplements can also save lives, according to a randomized clinical pilot study that was carried out at the University Hospital in Córdoba in Spain. Seventy-six hospitalized COVID-19 patients were either given standard treatment alone or in combination with high-dosed vitamin D supplements. In this study, the scientists also chose calcifediol, which the body can utilize better and faster.
Only two percent of the patients in the vitamin D group required intensive care, compared with 50 percent of the patients in the non-supplemented group. There were no recorded deaths in the vitamin D group and all patients were discharged without any complications. The study was published online in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in October 2020.
You need magnesium in order to utilize vitamin D
Calcifediol was used in the Andalusian model with nursing home residents and (in large doses) in the study of COVID-19 patients at the Córdoba University Hospital. This form of vitamin D works much faster than the form of vitamin that we produce from sun exposure or get from regular supplements
However, one should also be aware that many magnesium-containing enzymes are involved in the conversion of cholecalciferol into calcifediol and the biologically active form, calcitriol 1,25-dihydrocholecalciferol D3). Therefore, if you lack magnesium you will not get the full benefit of vitamin D from sunlight or from normal supplements.
|Vitamin D synthesis||Form of vitamin D|
|The skin||Cholecalciferol, vitamin D3
Produced from the form of cholesterol called 7-dihydroxycholesterol and UBV rays from the sun.
This form is also found in normal supplements
|The liver||Calcifediol/ calcidiol
25-hydroxyvitamin D3 that is measured in blood.
(the conversion requires magnesium)
|The kidneys||immune system and other tissues
Calcitriol (biologically active)
(the conversion requires magnesium)
Optimize your vitamin D levels before it is too late
Lack of vitamin D is common and many scientists have argued for years that is important to optimize levels of the nutrient.
The official recommendations for vitamin D do not seem to be able to optimize blood levels of the nutrient – which should ideally be at least 50 nmol/L. Levels between 60-100 nmol/L are likely to be even better. If you live at northern latitudes and want to reach these levels, you need to take a high-dosed vitamin D supplement from October through April. If you don’t get enough sun during the summer period you need to take a supplement all year round.
It is possible to buy supplements that contain 20-80 micrograms of vitamin D. Our actual need for the nutrient depends on factors like genes, skin type, BMI, and chronic diseases like e.g. diabetes. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the safe upper intake level for vitamin D is 100 micrograms per day. Vitamin D is lipid-soluble, which means that you get the highest level of bioavailability by taking vitamin D dissolved in oil in gelatin capsules.
Will Chu. UK Prime minister urged, “Look to Andalusia´s vitamin D use in tackling covid-19.” NUTRAingredients.com 09-Feb-2021
Laurence Dollimore. Watch: British MP praises Andalucía for using vitamin D to treat COVID-19 patients and ask PM Boris Johnson to follow Spain´s example. The Olive Press February 16, 2021
David Davis. Vitamin D: Covid-19. In the House of Commons 14th January 2021
Marta Entrenas Castillo et al. Effect of calciferol treatment and best available therapy versus best available therapy on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized for COVID-19: A pilot randomized clinical study. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. October 2020
David A Jolliffe et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of aggregate data from randomised controlled trials. MedRxiv. BMJ Yale. 2020
Molly Campel. Talking Vitamin D and COVID-19 with professor Adrian Martineau. Technology Networks Jan 15 2020
Andrea Rosanoff et al. Essential Nutrient Interactions: Does Low or Suboptimal Magnesium Interact with Vitamin D and/or Calcium status. Advances in Nutrition 2016
José L Hernandez et al. Vitamin D Status in Hospitalized Patients with SARS-CoV2- Infection. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. October 2020
Northwestern University. Vitamin D levels appear to play role in COVID-19 mortality rates. Science Daily. May 2020
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