By Karen Howard
The world might feel a bit dark at the moment, and the ability to assert control can feel short-lived. Indeed, the focus on having sufficient COVID-19 testing capacity and developing an action plan towards recovery are essential, albeit only part of a solution set that ensures a healthy future. We now know that COVID-19 preys on a weakened immune system. Testing for key nutrients, particularly vitamin D, is a critical component to building your immune system, and it puts the power of prevention straight into your hands and into those of the general public.
Scientists and health care providers from around the world are connecting the dots between vitamin D deficiency and the underlying conditions associated with increased severity or complications of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now tracking the top three conditions linked to the virus: diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease. Each is linked to vitamin D deficiency. Former CDC Chief, Dr. Tom Friedan affirmed, “Vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of respiratory infection, regulates cytokine production and can limit the risk of other viruses such as influenza. A respiratory infection can result in cytokine storms – a vicious cycle in which our inflammatory cells damage organs throughout the body – which increase mortality for those with COVID-19.” Dr. JoAnn Manson of Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School states, “There is emerging and growing evidence that vitamin D status may be relevant to the risk of developing COVID-19 infection and to the severity of the disease,” adding, “Vitamin D has an immune modulating effect and can lower inflammation.”
So what does it mean that 40-75% of the world’s population and nearly 90% of all Americans are vitamin D deficient? Forty-eight high-profile vitamin D researchers from around the globe agree that 40-60 ng/ml is the ideal range for vitamin D. Dig up your test records from your last physical, and you’ll likely see levels ranging from 10-30 ng/ml. If you do take vitamin D on a regular basis, you may be higher, but you absolutely must know your serum level in order to supplement effectively.
The primary source of vitamin D is the sun, and we live in a society that no longer tolerates extended time in the sun without applying sunscreen. Stay-at-home orders have complicated getting enough sun and frankly, unlike many nutrients, you can’t eat your way to a healthy vitamin D level. Fortunately, vitamin D supplementation is an inexpensive, effective and simple way to resolve deficiencies if taken in the right amounts. Knowing your levels requires testing, and that can be done from the comfort of your own home.
Our research partner, GrassrootsHealth, offers a simple blood spot test you can have delivered to your home. With your results, you can use the vitamin D calculator to see how much vitamin D you need to take to get achieve that optimal level of 40-60 ng/ml or use the calculator today if you do know you current level! Everyone has just enough time before the winter flu and cold season to monitor and increase your vitamin D level to bolster your immune system.
There is no reason to hesitate. Supplementation is safe. The latest Institute of Medicine report indicates 10,000 IU/day is considered the NOAEL (no observed adverse effect level) and 4,000 IU/day is safe for adults who are age 19 and older. When I first measured my vitamin D level, it was 38 ng/ml. I wasn’t taking any vitamin D supplementation. I then increased what was my normal daily consumption of 5,000 IUs to 10,000 IUs, and now my level is 79 ng/ml. The appropriate intake for you depends on your age, race, lifestyle and latitude of residence.
According to published research, vitamin D levels of 50 ng/ml appear to protect against viral respiratory infection. Further, research shows the risk of premature birth decreases by 60% when pregnant women have vitamin D blood serum levels of 40 ng/ml or higher, a level that may be particularly important during COVID-19 with pregnancy ranking 7th in the CDC’s underlying health conditions most at risk for COVID-19. The research of vitamin D’s effectiveness as 40-60 ng/ml is extensive. Know your vitamin D level so you can live your future life well.
Karen Howard, CEO and Executive Director of Organic & Natural Health Association is a visionary and results-focused leader who has spent more than 30 years working with Congress, state legislatures and healthcare organizations to develop innovative healthcare policy and programs. She has held a variety of executive positions, including serving as professional staff for a Congressional committee, and has policy expertise in the diverse areas of integrative and complementary medicine, managed care, healthcare technology and mental health. An advocate at heart, she has worked to strategically advance the mission and vision of organizations through effective advocacy and strong collaboration.
Prior to Organic & Natural Health, Howard served as executive director for both the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) and the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Schools. During her nearly 10-year tenure at AANP, she built a sustainable infrastructure, significantly improved financial performance, established a strong federal presence and supported multiple state association advocacy efforts for licensure. Also during this time, the naturopathic medicine profession established itself as a key component of comprehensive healthcare for the future. www.organicandnatural.org