NutraTalk Blog

Can Vitamin D Reduce the Risk of Illness?

Posted on : May 05, 2020 by Hardy Nutritionals® No Comments

With the world in a global pandemic, scientists are quickly trying to learn more about spreading of viruses. We know this disease can spread easily among people through respiratory droplets released when you cough, sneeze or talk, or by touching an infected surface- where it can live on for up to five days. But we don’t have much data about who the virus affects, or why the differing severity of cases. Most importantly, researchers are still searching for a cure.  As people flock to buy masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, enlightened scientists have posed the question- what about vitamin D?

Vitamin D is Proven to Prevent Illness

Several studies have been published over the past few years concluding that taking vitamin D can help prevent the risk of respiratory infections, influenza, and even the common cold. In one study referenced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Gerry Schwalfenberg, MD CCFP FCFP, explains how he and his colleagues have successfully implemented Vitamin D supplementation among their patients, and seen great results. 

“It is well known that there is a seasonality to influenza that correlates well with the seasonal drop in vitamin D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. Levels of 25(OH)D are quite low in nursing home residents, and supplementation with 2000 IU of vitamin D can bring levels to normal safely in most patients,” Schwalfenberg opened. AdobeStock_263659184.jpeg

“A colleague of mine and I have introduced vitamin D at doses that have achieved greater than 100 nmol/L in most of our patients for the past number of years, and we now see very few patients in our clinics with the flu or influenza-like illness. In those patients who do have influenza, we have treated them with the
vitamin D hammer, as coined by my colleague. This is a 1-time 50 000 IU dose of vitamin D3 or 10 000 IU 3 times daily for 2 to 3 days. The results are dramatic, with complete resolution of symptoms in 48 to 72 hours.”

Most importantly, Schwalfenberg points out that vitamin D costs about one cent per 1,000 international units, making this treatment not only effective but cost-efficient. Now, researchers have published a study in Grassroots Health Nutrient Research Institute called “Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths “ that not only echoes this established fact that vitamin D can prevent influenza, but suggests it could also help prevent coronavirus. 

Vitamin D and Your Body

A proper amount of vitamin D in your body is essential to staying healthy. According to the NIH, this supplement has many roles in the body, including modifying the growth of cells, neuromuscular and immune function, and reducing inflammation. “Vitamin D has many mechanisms by which it reduces the risk of microbial induction and death,” the study explains. In fact, this essential vitamin has been proven to work on three levels: physical barrier, cellular natural immunity, and adaptive immunity. 

But what does that really mean?

It’s believed that viruses disturb different “junctions” in the body, including tight, gap, and adherens. These cellular structures are vital to the body, as they help send signals to the brain, reduce stress placed upon other cells, and help hold all your cells together.  

“Vitamin D helps maintain tight junctions, gap junctions, and adherens junctions. Several articles discussed how viruses disturb junction integrity, increasing infection by the virus and other microorganisms,” the study reports. 

The researchers continue to explain that vitamin D enhances cellular immunity by affecting the innate immune system- which generates both pri-inflammoartory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the body. These cytokines respond to viral and bacterial infections, such as COVID-19. 

Vitamin D also raises levels of Serum 25(OH)D in the body, which can be beneficial among patients who seem to be most at-risk for contracting COVID-19. As adults increase with age, their bodies tend to produce less Serum 25(OH)D, which could be the result of a few things, such as less sun exposure or increased use of pharmaceutical drugs. COVID-19 seems to have the most severe effects on adults over the age of 60, who are most at-risk for low vitamin D levels. 

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The Study 

Researchers looked at 212 cases of patients who had been hospitalized in Southern Asia with positive cases of coronavirus. The goal of the study was to compare the severity of symptoms with the levels of vitamin D serum levels in the body. 

The cases were grouped as follows: 

  1. Mild - presenting with mild clinical symptoms and no diagnosis of pneumonia
  2. Ordinary - presenting with fever, respiratory symptoms, and a confirmed diagnosis of pneumonia
  3. Severe - cases with hypoxia and respiratory distress
  4. Critical - cases with respiratory failure requiring intensive care

The Vitamin D levels were grouped as follows:

  1. Normal - vitamin D level of 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/L) or above
  2. Insufficient - vitamin D level between 21-29 ng/ml (51-74 nmol/L)
  3. Deficient - vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/L)

Researchers learned that 86% of all cases among patients with “normal” vitamin D levels were mild. On the other hand, 73% of cases among patients with a vitamin D deficiency were severe to criticalFor each standard deviation increase in vitamin D level, the odds of having a mild case compared to a severe case were over seven times more. The odds of having a mild case compared to a critical case were over 19 times more. 

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Applying the Results

The researchers of this study conclude that supplementation of vitamin D could raise levels of 25(OH)D in the body and consequently, lower the risk of COVID-19. They also believe that supplementing with vitamin D could help both inside and outside a hospital setting. Since working with COVID-19 patients increases the risk of infection, the researchers suggest that if all people in hospitals, from staff to patients, take vitamin D supplements, it would reduce the spread of coronavirus. 

In addition, the application and safety of high-dose vitamin D supplementation has been tested throughout the world in past years, to find that this method is not only safe but effective. Clinicians have reported positive results in controlling asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and rickets as well as reducing cancer risk and diabetes progression using Vitamin D. And last month, a former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even proposed using vitamin D to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, England’s National Health Service (NHS) advised residents to begin supplementing 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily to help combat the global pandemic. 

“Consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep your bones and muscles healthy. This is because you may not be getting enough vitamin D from sunlight if you’re indoors most of the day,” the NHS website released. 

Nutritionist Dr. Michele Sadler echoed this advice, stating “An adequate supply of vitamin D is essential all year round to keep your body healthy. Not only is it good for bones and teeth, but research has shown that it also plays a role in the immune system… Vulnerable population groups like the housebound and children one to four years are advised by PHE to take a daily 10 microgram supplement, and all adults and children over five years to consider this.” 

The authors of the Grassroots study are currently working on furthering their research of patients with COVID-19 and vitamin D levels. As they continue to commit to moving forward by using science to drive global action, they are recommending citizens around the world to supplement their daily diet with vitamin D. 

Broad-Spectrum Micronutrients vs. Single Micronutrients

When it comes to supplementing properly, it is important to balance supplementation with other vitamins and minerals so as not to create an imbalance.  Single element therapy can be helpful, but research overwhelmingly shows that using a broad-spectrum multivitamin that contains all the vitamins and minerals is even more beneficial than using just one or two at a time.

At Hardy Nutritionals®, we use an analogy that we call "the dam theory".  In this analogy, the dam represents the human body.  If there are no deficiencies in the dam, the dam holds water and functions as it should.  If there are no deficiencies in the body, it too will function as it should.  However, if there are multiple deficiencies (holes) in the dam it will cause the dam to leak.  Like dams, if there are multiple deficiencies in the body, it won't function optimally either.

While using individual (or several individual) elements to try and achieve the desired health effect is a popular idea, prevailing research shows that simply providing individual nutrients to the body (one at a time) can create other imbalances.undefined
In a textbook published recently by the American Psychiatric Association, researchers shared the importance of supplementing using broad-spectrum micronutrients that include important ingredients like Vitamin D in a multivitamin format.

The authors first examine the evidence with respect to “single nutrients”, or single element therapy,  such as using magnesium or Vitamin B12 for the treatment of mood dysregulation and mental health.“Adjusting a single micronutrient may not have much impact because 1) micronutrients typically act together...2) many enzymes have cofactors, so adjusting one may have little effect; and 3) treating with a single micronutrient can be disruptive by creating imbalances…”

According to the authors, the most desirable multivitamins typically consist of:

  • At least 10, preferably more (25 or so), minerals, and vitamins.
  • Individual ingredient doses exceeding the RDA.
  • Balanced ratios.
  • High bio-availability.
  • High-quality control.
  • Absence of botanicals that interfere with drugs.
  • Availability of peer-review studies on safety and efficacy using comparable formulations.

The authors also note that “A broader range of micronutrients is more likely to provide more pervasive physiological changes, including more wide-ranging enhancements of central nervous system (CNS) activity.  Broad-spectrum mineral-vitamin combinations have been evaluated for treating violent behavior and conduct problems, ADHD, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and substance use disorders.  Broad-spectrum interventions have also been examined in nonclinical (“normal”) populations for improving mood, cognition, sense of well-being, and stress tolerance."

Hardy’s Daily Essential Nutrients contains every single essential vitamin and mineral the body needs, including 1000 IUs per serving of vitamin D.  Paired with other vital nutrients in a highly bioavailable format at balanced, therapeutic levels, the body is able to put the vitamins and minerals to good use.

No more than ever, scientists agree that it’s best to arm your immune system with essential micronutrients. Order Daily Essential Nutrients for your family today at HardyNutritionals.com.

Hardy Nutritionals® multivitamin-mineral products are powered by our proprietary NutraTek™ mineral delivery technology, which combines each mineral with specialized organic molecules—just like nature—to optimize absorption and distribution to body cells. Our flagship supplement, Daily Essential Nutrients, is widely considered to be the most research-backed micronutrient treatment.
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