Vitamin D Can Help Reduce
COVID-19 Risks: Here’s How
Stay on top of the COVID-19 pandemic
Vitamin D Can Help Reduce COVID-19 Risks: Here’s How
Experts say vitamin D can help bolster the immune system,
allowing it to better combat illnesses such as COVID-19.
-A new study concludes that people with prediabetes who take
vitamin D supplements can lower their risk of type 2 diabetes.
-Past research indicates that vitamin D can positively affect
blood sugar levels, inflammation, and insulin production.
-It can be difficult to obtain enough vitamin D through your
diet, so sunshine and supplements can be options.
People with prediabetes who supplement with at least 1,000
units per day of vitamin D may significantly reduce their risk of progressing
to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
That’s the conclusion of recent research published in The
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The meta-analysis included nearly 45,000 participants from
nine previous clinical trials. Those participating had an average age of 65
With the large sample size, the researchers said they were
striving to determine more clearly if a deficiency in vitamin D increases the
risk of type 2 diabetes and if supplements taken by people with prediabetes
could prevent further progression of the disease.
Past research has determined that about 41 percentTrusted
Source of the U.S. population has lower than normal vitamin D levels.
When focusing on specific ethnicities, nearly 82 percent of
African American adults and 62 percent of Hispanic adults were found to be
deficient in vitamin D. The factors for those percentages included obesity,
lack of college education, and lack of daily milk consumption.
Dr. Zachary Bloomgarden, a professor at Mount Sinai Hospital
in New York City specializing in endocrine and diabetes care, says the
association between vitamin D and type 2 diabetes has been studied many times.
“The random controlled trials have not convincingly showed
that vitamin D prevents diabetes, but subset analogies suggest that the group
of individuals with low vitamin D levels are protected from diabetes by taking
a vitamin D supplement,” Bloomgarden told Healthline.
A 2017 studyTrusted Source posed theories that vitamin D
affects blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes in three
ways: insulin production, insulin sensitivity, and overall inflammation.
And this doesn’t just apply to adults.
In a studyTrusted Source focused on Swedish youth who have
obesity, vitamin D deficiency and prediabetes were identified in 33 percent of
“Vitamin D is really a prohormone,” explained Bloomgarden.
“Chemically, it’s a steroid hormone.”
The fact that insulin is also a hormone convinces some
experts that there is a relationship between insulin and vitamin D. Many people
with low vitamin D levels have also been found to have overall immune
Bloomgarden adds, however, that while vitamin D deficiency
is common in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes, it’s difficult to say
what causes what.
Vitamin D levels: What’s normal?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it can be
stored in fat cells like vitamins A, E, and K.
The storage factor means a person can consume too much of
any fat-soluble vitamin and experience negative effects.
Other vitamins are water-soluble, which means that consuming
too much will prompt the body to excrete the excess material through the urine.
Unlike most other vitamins, it’s difficult to obtain vitamin
D from your diet. Instead, sunlight exposure triggers the synthesis of vitamin
D in the human body.
“Vitamin D deficiency is common in the general population,
but mild degrees of vitamin D deficiency is not associated with any noticeable
symptoms or issues,” explained Bloomgarden.
At his practice, Bloomgarden says he measures vitamin D levels
in all patients. Anyone with a deficiency is treated with a supplement.
He says that in people with obesity, vitamin D deficiency is
significant and common.
Bloomgarden classifies his patients’ vitamin D levels as the
- Normal: 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)
- Mild deficiency: 20 to 30 ng/mL
- Moderate deficiency: 10 to 20 ng/mL
- Severe deficiency: below 10 ng/mL
“I don’t always treat someone with a mild deficiency,”
explained Bloomgarden, adding there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable benefit
for those people.
Bloomgarden recommends the following replacement doses based
on your vitamin D levels:
25 ng/mL and above: 1,000 units per day
- 20 to 25 ng/mL: 2,000 units per day
- 15 to 20 ng/mL: 2,000 units per day
- 10 to 15 ng/mL: 3,000 units per day
- Below 10 ng/mL: 4,000 units per day for 1 month, then reduce
Bloomgarden said that older theories on vitamin D
replacement and supplementation recommended only 400 units per day, but newer
research shows that isn’t enough.
“I’d only measure a patient’s levels again if they were
severely low in the initial testing,” explained Bloomgarden. “After a month or
several months of supplementation, I’d measure again. I’d also measure calcium
levels to ensure we’re not overdosing vitamin D.”
Taking too much vitamin D can significantly increase the
amount of calcium you absorb from the foods you eat. While this may sound like
a good thing, it can become dangerous at high enough levels.
“Elevated blood calcium leads to a number of issues,
including kidney stones,” said Bloomgarden.
There have been recommendations of up to 10,000 units per
day, which Bloomgarden feels isn’t necessary or safe.
“One thousand units per day for most people is plenty,” said
Bloomgarden. “Very few people need more than that.”