As we race to develop effective treatments and a vaccine against COVID-19, people are looking to reduce their risk of getting sick. One thing that might help is as obvious as the sun in the sky and as close as your medicine cabinet – Vitamin D. Higher COVID-19 mortality rates among older people and those with chronic conditions suggest that a weakened immune system contributes to poor outcomes. There are many crackpot claims about miracle cures floating around, but the science supports the possibility – although not the proof – that Vitamin D may strengthen the immune system, particularly of people whose Vitamin D levels are low. 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. Adequate Vitamin D may potentially provide some modest protection for vulnerable populations.
For now, go outside and get some sun – but make sure you follow social distancing guidelines to avoid close contact with other people, and don’t go out if you’re ill or can’t go out safely. Taking a walk will also help you get physical activity and alleviate cabin fever. Eat healthy foods that contain or are supplemented with Vitamin D. Take a daily multivitamin supplement (but don’t double the daily dose just because you’re worried).