While many are considering COVID to be a four-letter curse word that they are sick of hearing, by necessity of its threat to human life, researchers continue to search for explanations and I continue to share their discoveries with you. We have addressed many other nutritional, pharmaceutical, and lifestyle therapies in past articles. Today we take a moment to look at some of the better data to come out of this whole mess. Researchers led by Northwestern University evaluated data across multiple countries trying to determine why some countries’ mortality rates varied so much from others. Many theories had been floated for the high mortality in places like Italy or Iran, but none were satisfying. What did these researchers find?
In countries with high mortality rates like Italy, Spain, and Britain, there were higher rates of vitamin D deficiency versus countries less severely affected. At this point, the study awaits peer-review, (a process by which other researchers evaluate the methods, data, and findings to determine if they agree with the conclusions) but given what we know about vitamin D and the immune system from past research, this is not surprising. For example, an article by Martineau, A. R., et al in the British Medical Journal reported in 2017 that therapy for Vitamin D deficiency lowered respiratory infection occurrence.
They theorized that adequate vitamin D prevented the development of cytokine storm, the deadliest manifestation of COVID 19 disease. A prior post addressed this topic in full, but the short explanation is that the second arm of the immune system, the acquired system, overreacts causing too much inflammation. Lungs fill with fluid and inflammation, leading to respiratory failure along with other organ failure. Adequate vitamin D may prevent this over reaction and thus decrease the chance of severe disease.
Interestingly, this overreaction of the acquired immune system may also explain why children are less susceptible to COVID disease. Their acquired immune system is underactive and less likely to have such an overreaction.
While this functional MD does agree with the study authors that Vitamin D should not be overdosed in an attempt to prevent COVID, I do believe that the conventional target of above 30 is too low. At Sanctuary we aim for around 60 in optimizing patient’s health. This hormone like vitamin provides so many benefits that we should be more proactive in keeping it at an optimal level. Just another tool in helping our patients attain a healthier more abundant life.
Appendix and Disclaimer
With the onslaught by COVID and its coinciding onslaught of self-proclaimed experts with every opinion under the sun, I choose to respond with a series of research study reports so you can choose for yourself. Each edition will bring a few studies describing possible therapies for COVID under investigation or reported in past research. As my recent Facebook Live video noted, we do not know enough about this virus to be definite at this time. I am not claiming any of these are the preventive or curative answer for you or your family’s safety. I just want you to be aware of these studies and have knowledge so that you can grow in wisdom rather than stumble about in panic.
One huge challenge in identifying effective therapies for COVID lies in the novelty of it all. Research requires time, something of which we have little in an emerging pandemic. We don’t have the luxury of studying 100 years of research or 10,000 past experiments. This battle requires a great deal of extrapolation. Extrapolation means that we take the little information we do have and attempt to use it in predicting what we don’t know. This process takes place every time an experiment proceeds in science, but the urgency in this case makes it more frustrating than usual. As we walk through a different possible therapy each post, keep this paragraph in mind.
Primary Article Referenced:
Ali Daneshkhah, Vasundhara Agrawal, Adam Eshein, Hariharan Subramanian, Hemant Kumar Roy, Vadim Backman. The Possible Role of Vitamin D in Suppressing Cytokine Storm and Associated Mortality in COVID-19 Patients. medRxiv, Posted April 30, 2020; [link]
Thanks to Science Daily:
Northwestern University. “Vitamin D levels appear to play role in COVID-19 mortality rates: Patients with severe deficiency are twice as likely to experience major complications.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200507121353.htm>.
Martineau, A. R., et al. (2017). “Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data.” BMJ 356: i6583.
Chun, R. F., et al. (2014). “Impact of vitamin D on immune function: lessons learned from genome-wide analysis.” Front Physiol 5: 151.
Hewison, M. (2011). “Vitamin D and innate and adaptive immunity.” Vitam Horm 86: 23-62.
Kroner Jde, C., et al. (2015). “Vitamin D every day to keep the infection away?” Nutrients 7(6): 4170-4188.
D and immune function.” Nutrients 5(7): 2502-2521.
Rondanelli, M., et al. (2018). “Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2018: 5813095.
Youssef, D. A., et al. (2011). “Antimicrobial implications of vitamin D.” Dermatoendocrinol 3(4): 220-229.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.