I speculated many weeks ago that perhaps the reason why we saw such a high COVID-19 mortality rate among nursing homes residents, African Americans, darker skinned individuals, and those with comorbidities – was likely due to a Vitamin D deficiency. The evidence of this was become very clear to me that this is indeed the case, so I will outline the evidence and the studies that have been done herein.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are comorbidities that contribute to poor outcomes with COVID-19. If you would like more info on how to lose weight or reverse your Type 2 Diabetes, please check out my other articles:
15 Easy Weight Loss Tips (I lost 168 lbs.)
Dark-Skinned People, Seniors, & Vitamin D Insufficiency
Most people are aware that those that do not get adequate Vitamin D from sun exposure and/ or fortified foods are at risk from Vitamin D Insufficiency. Often times the aging population, especially those in nursing homes and retirement centers are not active outdoors.
Researches have found that Vitamin D levels are severely low in the aging population especially in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. These are the countries with high number of cases of COVID-19 and the aging people is the group with the highest risk for morbidity and mortality with SARS-CoV2.
See: The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7202265/
Another collaborative paper from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, and Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Liverpool UK suggests that daily supplementation of 2000–5000 IU/day of vitamin D3 in older adults may potentially offering protection against COVID-19 complications.
See: Potential Role of Vitamin D in the Elderly to Resist COVID-19 and to Slow Progression of Parkinson’s Disease https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/5/284/htm
Vitamin D synthesis is highly dependent on the concentration of melanin in the skin. Due to lower melanin concentrations, dark-skinned individuals will experience slower vitamin D synthesis than light-skinned ones. Dark-skinned people do not absorb Vitamin D from the sun efficiently, but lower melanin also means less sun-burn!
See: Skin pigmentation, sun exposure and vitamin D levels in children of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4067096/
In a European population study, the researchers found that dark-skinned ethnic subgroups had a much higher rate (up to 71 times) of Vitamin D deficiency than did white populations.
See: Vitamin D deficiency in Europe: pandemic? (PDF file) https://bit.ly/2Bt32d4
A combination of research in the U.S. from 1988 to 2004 indicated that “Nearly all non-Hispanic blacks (97%) and most Mexican-Americans (90%) now have vitamin D insufficiency.”
See: Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population, 1988–2004 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3447083/
A research article from a group in England that used NHS data found that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups are at increased risk of infection and death from COVID-19. The results from their research indicate: The largest total number of deaths in minority ethnic groups were Indian and Black Caribbean groups. Adjusting for region they found a lower risk of death for White Irish and White British ethnic groups, but increased risk of death for Black African, Black Caribbean, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Indian minority ethnic groups.
See: Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups in England are at increased risk of death from COVID-19: indirect standardisation of NHS mortality data https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/articles/5-88
A Research Lab independently compiled mortality data for Washington, D.C. and 45 U.S. states. They found that overall COVID-19 mortality rate for Black Americans is about 2.3 times as high as the rate for Whites and Asians, about twice as high as the Latino and Pacific Islander rate, and 1.5 times as high as the Indigenous rate.
Deaths Per 100,000:
See: The color of coronavirus: COVID-19 deaths by race and ethnicity in the U.S. https://www.apmresearchlab.org/covid/deaths-by-race
NOTE: Vitamin D Will NOT Prevent Coronavirus Infection!
It is important to note that supplementing with Vitamin D3 will NOT prevent a COVID-19 infection. There is NO DATA that show less infection rates among those with sufficient Vitamin D blood serum levels. Your best preventative measures are still: WEAR A MASK, social distance, and wash your hands frequently with soap. Here is info and science on a DIY Mask:
COVID-19 Mortality Research Findings
A research team led by Northwestern University conducted a statistical analysis of data from hospitals and clinics across China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States. The team was inspired to examine vitamin D levels after noticing unexplained differences in COVID-19 mortality rates from country to country.
What they found was a significant correlation with vitamin D deficiency and mortality. In particular, Vitamin D may play a very important role in suppressing the ‘cytokine storm’ or over-reaction of the innate immune system which can result in multi-organ failure.
See: The Possible Role of Vitamin D in Suppressing Cytokine Storm and Associated Mortality in COVID-19 Patients https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.08.20058578v4
Another research team looked at COVID-19 patients admitted at an academic medical center. They found that 84.6% of all ICU patients, and 100% of ICU patients less than 75 years of age had vitamin D deficiency.
See: Vitamin D Insufficiency is Prevalent in Severe COVID-19 https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.24.20075838v1
Because of the strong correlations of Vitamin D insufficiency, these research teams suggested that Randomized Control Trials (RCT) be conducted as this is the gold standard in scientific research. We currently have at east two of these RCT’s.
Randomized Control Trials
A Medical Center in Decatur Georgia conducted 2 RCT’s. In the initial trial, they took a group of Vitamin D Deficeint patients, and gave them very high doses of Vitamin D. The result was a decreased hospital length of stay from 36 days to 25 days.
See: High Dose Vitamin D Administration in Ventilated Intensive Care Unit Patients: A Pilot Double Blind Randomized Controlled Trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27419080/
The second trial took a group of mechanically ventilated critically ill adults and also gave them very high doses of Vitamin D3. They confirmed that dramatically increasing serum Vitamin D improved iron metabolism and thus adequate oxygen transport to the bodies tissues.
See: High‐Dose Vitamin D3 Administration Is Associated With Increases in Hemoglobin Concentrations in Mechanically Ventilated Critically Ill Adults: A Pilot Double‐Blind, Randomized, Placebo‐Controlled Trial https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1177/0148607116678197
Why Vitamin D Is Important
Vitamin D plays a role in the innate immune system in a variety of ways. It has antiviral properties and interferes with bacterial cell membranes. It also helps regulate immune response by downregulating pro-inflammatory cytokines and upregulating anti-inflammatory cytokines, and may be capable of preventing this severe complication related to COVID-19 and other viral illnesses and pneumonia.
See: Modulation of the Immune Response to Respiratory Viruses by Vitamin D https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488782/
For additional and highly technical reading on Vitamin D and the immune system, See: Impact of vitamin D on immune function: lessons learned from genome-wide analysis https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2014.00151/full
Please note that I am not a doctor or certified dietician. If you have severe or even moderate Vitamin D deficiency, please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional.
Large doses of Vitamin D should NOT be considered outside of the recommendations of your doctor. I have talked to many people that take 5,000 International Units (IU) and even 10,000 IU. In an ICU, they will sometimes give much larger doses. This is NOT recommended for daily supplementation!
The UPPER limit for daily Vitamin D3 supplementation is 4,000 IU.
My trusted source for nutrition information is NutritionFacts.org and Dr. Michael Greger. Dr. Greger recommends 2,000 IU Vitamin D supplements daily, ideally with the largest meal of the day.
See: Vitamin D Supplements https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/vitamin-d-supplements/
It is never too late to develop healthy eating habits. Supplementation has its place, but building a healthy immune system based around your daily dietary choices is the best option for optimal health.
Centenarians in the ‘Blue Zones’ eat a primarily plant-based diet (90% or higher). Find out more about their eating habits in my article ‘Top 12 Longevity Foods‘.
As always, if you have questions or comments about my articles, please feel free to reach out to me directly: ctiexec @ gmail . com