Doctors need urgent research to test Vitamin D vs COVID-19. Sign our petition now.
Doctors need urgent research to test Vitamin D vs COVID-19. Sign our petition now.
Doctors need urgent research around Vitamin D and COVID-19.
The Vitamin D connection
- Groups of people identified at risk of extreme cases of COVID-19 are the same groups at risk from low vitamin D. (BAME, elderly, obese, housebound, diabetic)
- 1 in 5 adults in the UK have untreated very low levels of vitamin D ( <25nmol/L). As this is often a silent problem, this could be you.
-Vitamin D (sunlight vitamin) creates immune proteins that protect the SAME sites where coronavirus attacks on a cell level. Without it our immune system is left more exposed.
- Very low vitamin D levels cannot be corrected by diet alone or current guidance of 10ug a day supplements.
- Very low levels are detected with a blood test and require a doctor’s prescription of higher-dose supplements for several weeks.
Can vitamin D shield us from severe COVID-19 infections? - Please sign to support research into this over-looked and under-funded area.
What do we want?
We want the government to support a large observational study and commit to a clinical trial to review the current vitamin D supplementation recommendations of 10ug a day.
We want to test whether vitamin D offers protection from severe COVID-19 illness.
We want to inprove our ability to identify and protect the 1 in 5 of us with very low vitamin D levels.
SIGN OUR PETITION https://www.change.org/COVID19-RESEARCH-VitD
Why do we need a Plan B?
Vaccines take time to be created and are not a sure bet, we need to invest in researching safe preventative measures that could help now, not later.
Research suggests vitamin D can play a vital role in the fight against COVID-19 as it counteracts the damage caused by the virus at a cell level. It is an inexpensive and safe strategy.
In the midst of battling this pandemic, the world is recognising the Vitamin D pandemic. Some of the countries worst hit by COVID-19 have the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency.
UK seasons expose us all to our lowest levels of natural vitamin D between the months of October and March. It takes time and sufficiently sunny weather to improve this.
Despite this 1 in 5 adults in the UK still have low vitamin D levels, which puts us at an increased risk of developing respiratory illnesses, even if we are otherwise healthy.
Public Health England Now suggests a standard dose for all of 10ug a day in an attempt to protect us during the lockdown.
This dose has been proven to be too low to protect the 1 in 5 with very low levels of vitamin D (<25nmol/L).
Why is vitamin D so important?
Vitamin D is essential for our immune system. Unlike other vitamins, the right amount cannot be provided by a healthy diet alone.
Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone, developed from fats in our body during sufficient exposure to sunlight directly to our skin, or after taking supplements of vitamin D.
There are several reasons many of us remain deficient in vitamin D, even in sunnier climates ( i.e. darker skin tones, overuse of sun cream, increased air pollution and sun avoidance).
Vitamin D helps us fight off infections, it protects our bones and low levels are linked with diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer, Asthma - to name but a few.
Vitamin D produces sophisticated immune proteins that reduce swelling and defend the cell walls at all the sites in our body that coronavirus attacks. Without it, these sites are left more exposed.
Who has a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency?
- People with limited exposure to the sun; predominately work indoors or housebound, over-using sunscreen or those who cover their skin for cultural or religious reasons.
- People with darker skin tone which acts as a natural sunscreen. Tanned and darker skin naturally protects against sunlight overexposure. Whilst advantageous in hotter climates it is the cause for vitamin D deficiency in those living in colder or seasonal climates.
- All pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Children, especially under the age of 5
- People over the age of 65
- Obesity (BMI >30)
- A past medical history of vitamin D deficiency or some medical conditions such as Diabetes, Crohn’s disease, Coeliac disease, hyperparathyroidism, certain cancers (eg colorectal, prostate, breast) and some types of liver and kidney disease.
-If you take antiepileptic medication, oral steroid medication or on another long-term medication known to cause vitamin D deficiency ( ie cholestyramine, orlistat).
How is it treated?
Easily, safely and cheaply.
You cannot overdose on vitamin D sourced from sunlight, but skin safety needs to be considered when exposed to the sun without protection. Natural vitamin D from sunlight is always the best source but not reliable on colder or cloudy days.
In people with a low risk of deficiency, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggests 10ug daily of vitamin D is sufficient.
For the 1 in 5 with untreated vitamin D deficiency, high-dose prescribed doses are required, followed by a long term daily dose ranging between 20-100ug for adults.
It is advisable to adhere to the current supplementation advice given by Public Health England as informed by the NHS website.
Supplement quality varies and tablets need to be taken after food to be absorbed, unlike most oral vitamin D sprays. When taken as a supplement on its own, at recommended doses vitamin D is safe and well-tolerated.
For high-risk individuals all year round supplementation is advisable.
Please see the NHS link below for their recommendations.
When to speak to your GP?
- If your vitamin D levels are already known to be low and you are not on supplements.
- If you have an increased risk of deficiency (as above) and need advice on whether to take a higher dose of vitamin D.
Please sign and share this petition to support our NHS and encourage research into COVID19. https://www.change.org/COVID19-RESEARCH-VitD
Medical Research Now -
Tomorrow’s answers today
1. Preventing a Covid-19 pandemic: https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m810/rr-51
2. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32252338
3. Vitamin D and respiratory health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2759054/
4. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28202713
5. A Tissue distribution of ACE2 protein, the functional receptor for SARS coronavirus. A first step in understanding SARS pathogenesis.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15141377
6. Michot JM, Albiges L, Chaput N, et al.Tocilizumab, an anti-IL6 receptor antibody, to treat Covid-19-related respiratory failure: a case report. Annals Oncology. 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annonc.2020.03.300 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7136869/pdf/main.pdf
7. Channappanavar R, Perlman S. Pathogenic human coronavirus infections: causes and consequences of cytokine storm and immunopathology. Semin Immunopathol 2017; 39(5):529– 539: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28466096
8. Kuba K, Imai Y, Rao S, et al. A crucial role of angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) in SARS coronavirus-induced lung injury. Nat Med. 2005;11(8):875–879. doi:10.1038/nm1267 :https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16007097
9. Vitamin D deficiency and supplementation in critical illness—the known knowns and known unknowns: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6205786/
10. The vitamin D–antimicrobial peptide pathway and its role in protection against infection: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821804
11. Vitamin D: Nutrient, Hormone, and Immunomodulator: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266123/
12. A call to review Vitamin D Supplementation dose to higher doses known to be safe: National Institutes of Health: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
13. The 2011 Report on Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D from the Institute of Medicine: What Clinicians Need to Know: https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/96/1/53/2833225
Additional points and suggested reading:
Can low vitamin D be a predictor in the emerging Covid-19 associated Kawasaki/toxic shock paediatric cases? Are malabsorption disorders/IBD associated co-morbidities?
- Defensins and cathelicidins in lung immunity: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1753425910365734
- Considering the factors involved in Covid-19 associated coagulopathy:
Novel Role of T Cells and IL-6 (Interleukin-6) in Angiotensin II-Induced Microvascular Dysfunction: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30739537