An article in the this week’s Wall Street Journal reveals some very interesting correlations between vitamin deficiencies and severe illness with COVID. While this information is far from definitive it sheds some light on things we, as physicians and vitamin experts, already suspected about the role vitamins can play in immune support.
The article suggested that people with vitamin D deficiency are likely more at risk for COVID 19 infection and severe symptoms. This is based on looking at data from European countries- the countries with lower vitamin D levels seem to have been hit harder with higher infection rates and severity. Vitamin D deficiency may also have an association with higher levels of inflammation, then leading to more severe illness. They also looked at the fact that we know COVID 19 is disproportionately affecting those in black and latino populations– these are groups also known to have higher rates of vitamin deficiencies.
We know that people with darker skin color are more at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Melatonin in their skin essentially blocks absorption of vitamin D from sunlight and conversion of the D to its active form. Many if not most Americans have some degree of vitamin D deficiency if they are not taking a supplement but people with darker skin tend to have lower baseline levels of vitamin D and require higher doses of vitamin D supplementation to achieve a normal level.
Staying healthy remains top of mind for everyone these days. We come back to the question we are constantly being asked:
What vitamins and supplements should you take to help prevent COVID?
- Vitamin D3 is the vitamin with proven benefit for immune support (white blood cells which protect us from infection actually have Vitamin D receptors on them).
- Vitamin C also plays a role in supporting immunity. Taking safe and appropriate doses is important.
- Zinc can be helpful in the short term for reducing respiratory symptoms. We do not recommend taking zinc all the time, but during times of illness it may help shorten the duration of symptoms.
- Listen to the Experts. Vitamins alone do not prevent or treat COVID. Follow all the national and your local level advisements re social distancing, hand washing and infection control. Likewise, when figuring out what vitamins to take listen to credible sources. As doctors, we feel strongly about listening to the medical evidence.
- B vitamins also play a role in metabolism, nerve function and overall health. Many people can benefit from taking different doses of certain key B vitamins.
- Magnesium is a key electrolyte that can help with heart health, muscle symptoms and other concerns.
- Iron helps with oxygen transportation. If you are low in iron you may benefit from iron supplementation because it will help with this important task.
- Take a personalized approach to vitamins. We all want to be healthy but doing so means different things for different people. You do not need the same vitamins as your friends or neighbors. What you take depends on who you are, your diet, lifestyle and particular health concerns.
- A vitamin quiz is a great way to figure out your individual vitamin needs and get a safe daily custom vitamin regimen. Take our personalized vitamin quiz to get your custom daily multivitamin.
- More is not always better. Many “health influencers” are touting super high doses of vitamins. These are not medically sound and can cause harm. Yes, vitamin overdoses are a thing. Be careful!
As we all weather these unusual times, the tendency is to look for simple quick fixes to help our health. Just as we are finding out that there is no quick way out of the COVID crisis, rather we are all in this for the long haul– improving your health involves many small steps that can add up to great improvements over time. Taking vitamins alone is no guarantee against illness, but certainly it is one thing among many, that we can do to build up are arsenal against illness.
Take advantage of any extra time you may have now to focus on your health. Take care to eat a healthful diet, get good sleep, exercise and to take a healthy vitamin regimen. A custom daily vitamin regimen is a great easy step to take from the comfort of your own home. We are hoping that many of us can emerge from the COVID crisis healthier than we started. Take your personalized vitamin quiz now.
Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three teenagers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin quiz now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.