Vitamin D-deficient Patients Twice As Likely To Develop Severe COVID-19 Symptoms

Vitamin D foods, corona chart

A new study released by Northwestern University concludes that vitamin D may be an essential weapon to protect yourself from the coronavirus.  According to researchers, lower vitamin D levels significantly increase the likelihood that an infected person will develop severe symptoms and complications.

The study drew upon data from hospitals in China, France, Italy, South Korea, and the United States. Researchers discovered that patients in countries with higher mortality rates, such as Italy and Spain, usually had lower vitamin D levels than patients in other nations.

Because vitamin D is found almost exclusively in animal products (primarily fish and dairy), vegetarians, vegans. and people with milk allergies are at a particularly high risk of not getting enough.

For this reason, plant-based milk substitutes such as almond and soy milk are often fortified with this nutrient. Cereals and orange juice are also commonly available in vitamin D-fortified varieties.

The recommended daily value is 800 IU (20 mcg) of vitamin D per day from food. If you don’t get enough sunlight, your intake should likely be closer to 1,000 IU (25 mcg) per day.

Natural source of Vitamin D

Here are 5 healthy foods that are high in vitamin D. We’ve scoured the Green Prophet archives to bring you ideas of how to easily and deliciously up your vitamin D intake.

1. Salmon – this popular fatty fish is a great source of vitamin D especially if you stick with the wild caught varieties.  Try a delicious grilled salmon and cucumber sandwich. Find Green Prophet Miriam Kresh’s recipe here.

2. Eggs  are another good source, as well as wonderfully economical. While most of egg’s protein is in the white, the fat, vitamins, and minerals are mostly in the yolk. Eggs sourced from free range chickens contain more vitamin D than other varieties. Try Miriam’s easy avocado and egg toast – recipe here.

3. Wild mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D, but steer clear of commercially-grown types which are raised in low-light conditions. Miriam offer a trio of vegetarian mushroom-based meals – try them all.  Here’s her take on a traditional Iranian tahcheen (recipe here).  Her mushroom and asparagus risotto (recipe here). And her feta and mushroom and spinach quiche (recipe here). 

4. Herring and sardines can be consumed raw, canned, smoked, or pickled.  The French Guy on YouTube shows you how versatile a can of sardines can be:

5. Soy milk – for non-cooks, score yourself some vitamin D-fortified soy milk and follow Green Prophet Kelly Vaghenas’ recipe for a Spicy Date shake (recipe here). 

The study’s authors caution not to take excessive doses of vitamin D in pursuit of coronavirus immunity.  They also warn that vitamin D is not a cure for coronavirus, and more research is needed before definitive recommendations can be made.

“While I think it is important for people to know that vitamin D deficiency might play a role in mortality, we don’t need to push vitamin D on everybody,” says Northwestern’s Vadim Backman, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “This needs further study, and I hope our work will stimulate interest in this area. The data also may illuminate the mechanism of mortality, which, if proven, could lead to new therapeutic targets.”

All of the data used for this study was publicly available, and an in-depth analysis revealed a correlation between vitamin D levels and cytokine storm (a form of hyper-inflammation due to an overactive immune system). The study is published in medRxiv.7

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