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Vitamin D Defense – The Best Immunity Booster
People working in the front lines should be made aware of this and they should start taking vitamin D in higher than otherwise doses to quickly bring up their levels.
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Vitamin D is known for keeping our bones healthy and strong. One of the well explored effects of vitamin D is the regulation of the immune system. It has been found that vitamin D deficiency can compromise respiratory immune response to various bacterial and viral infections. Severe deficiency of vitamin D was found in patients with ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), the cause of fatality during the past coronavirus infections. With our changing indoor lifestyles, vitamin D deficiency is a global pandemic, including India. No wonder we are seeing the effects on our health – a weakened immune system.
The right levels of vitamin D
Vitamin D can be checked with a simple blood test. The Endocrine Society has recommended 30-100 ng/ml blood levels of vitamin D as sufficient to maintain good health. Higher levels of more than 50 ng/ml, have been found to influence our immune system better. People whose blood levels of vitamin D are at least 50- 60 ng/ml, are better protected from the effects of the deadly viral infections, COVID-19 being the present one.
Sun alone cannot give us enough vitamin D
Our ancestors were predominantly hunting and farming community and would get 90% of the vitamin D requirement with their healthy outdoor lifestyles. As far as urban Indians are concerned, sun phobia, indoor lifestyle, AC culture and sunscreens do not allow our skin to get adequate sun exposure to be able to make necessary vitamin D. If we are in the full sun (10 am – 2 pm) with 70% of skin exposure, the body can make around 10000 to 15000 IU in 15 – 20 minutes. How many of us are ready for it on a regular basis?
Majority need to supplement
Vegetarian food unfortunately does not contain vitamin D. Other food sources like egg yolk, deep sea cold water fish, some mushrooms, do contain vitamin D, but not enough to meet full requirement. Vitamin D is no longer an optional supplement but has become a cellular necessity.
Boosting our immunity
A 21st century evaluation has validated that we adults need 10000 international units of vitamin D per day for physiological benefits to whole body. Being a fat soluble vitamin, it need not be taken everyday and can be taken once in 7 to 15 days. The aim should be to maintain 50 to 60 ng/ml of vitamin D blood levels for a strong immune system. Regimens that give at least six lakh IU vitamin D over a period of two months, have been found to achieve this target. The recommendations below are for adults in the context of and specific to this situation with COVID-19.
1. If not taking supplements at all for six months or more:
- Vitamin D 60k IU twice a week for two weeks to be followed by 60k once a week for the next six weeks.
- Vitamin D 60k IU daily for three days to be followed by 60k weekly for the total period of two months.
2. If already taking some form of vitamin D supplements (1000-5000 IU per day), it can be replaced with 60k IU vitamin D once a week for two months.
It is advisable to get the blood levels checked after two month of taking vitamin D. The doses can then be adjusted to maintain levels around 60 ng/ml.
Can vitamin D be toxic?
Levels greater than 150 ng/ml are referred to as being toxic which does not happen with the doses recommended above. People working in the front lines should be made aware of this and they should start taking vitamin D in higher than otherwise doses to quickly bring up their levels. It could be one of the best tools in this fight that can obviate the need for many people getting admitted to ICUs.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.