It’s All About Latitude

Vitamin D fights Covid-19.

By Dr. Robin Rose

We have all heard by now about the amazing health benefits of Vitamin D. We know it is crucial for our immune function and protecting us from contracting and combating the flu or common cold, among preventing and reducing our risk of several other conditions.

Now there is mounting evidence that depending on where you live may influence why you may contract COVID-19 more easily and have a more severe course, and this is linked to Vitamin D deficiency.

There appear to be significant variations in mortality from COVID-19 between different countries. In fact, countries in the Southern Hemisphere are seeing relatively low mortality. For example, when you compare Australia’s mortality rate to the United Kingdom, there is a huge discrepancy.

When mortality per million is plotted against latitude, countries that lie below 35 degrees North have relatively low mortality. It is important to realize that thirty-five degrees North happens to be the latitude above which people do not receive sufficient sunlight to retain adequate Vitamin D levels during winter. This includes places like Northern Italy, Spain, France, and the United States (i.e. particularly states that lie to the North). Thus, there may be a possible role for Vitamin D in determining outcomes from COVID-19. Interestingly, there are exceptions such as Nordic countries, where mortality is relatively low, however, Vitamin D deficiency is relatively uncommon, likely due to the widespread use of supplements.

Furthermore, researchers, from a yet-to-be-peer-reviewed study, extrapolated the average levels of Vitamin D among the citizens of 20 European countries and then compared the figures with the relative numbers of COVID-19 deaths in each country. Statistical analysis showed there was an impressive correlation between the figures, where populations with lower than average concentrations of the vitamin also featured more deaths from COVID-19. It is important to point out that Vitamin D deficiency has also been shown to correlate with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and ethnicity—all features associated with increased risk of severe COVID-19.

There are a considerable amount of studies showing that Vitamin D is critical in regulating and suppressing the inflammatory response due to various respiratory viruses that can lead to the cytokine storm. It is important to note that while Vitamin D may play a role in protecting against the infection, the working hypothesis is that it could be crucial in preventing the cytokine storm leading to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome that is commonly the cause of mortality.

More research is needed to further elucidate the role of Vitamin D status and the severity of COVID-19. The evidence supporting its protective role against severe COVID-19 is compelling. Researchers note that a substantial proportion of the population in the Northern Hemisphere will currently be Vitamin D deficient, and supplements such as 1,000 international units per day are very safe. Perhaps it is time to strengthen recommendations for Vitamin D intake and supplementation, particularly when under lock-down.

Make sure you get out and get some rays. It’s the best source of Vitamin D. The mid-day sun with 50% of your body exposed for 10 to 20 minutes.

Terrain Health recommends Vitamin D3 2,000 IU daily from Vital Nutrients for adults who do not know their current level of Vitamin D.

Terrain Health recommends Vitamin D3 1,000 IU from Orthomolecular for children.

Terrain Health recommends Vitamin D3 5,000 IU daily from Designs for Health for adults if you have recently had blood work done showing that your Vitamin D level is lower than 30ng/ml.

We suggest testing your levels every 3-6 months to ensure you are getting adequate amounts.

Also, it is important to note that certain people with pre-existing medical conditions including sarcoidosis, kidney disease, liver disease, and hyperparathyroidism, need to use caution when using high doses of Vitamin D as they may be at risk for developing kidney stones or worsening renal function.