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Vitamin D and COVID: Big patient demand for increased immune protection

vitamin D and COVID

Patients are supercharging supplement sales as vitamin D and COVID are linked by research with the supplement boosting immunity for those suffering from low vitamin D levels

Health care workers and public health officials are particularly concerned about the current surge in COVID-19 cases entering the new year for a number of reasons, and vitamin D and COVID are frequently used in the same sentence after positive study results for heightened immunity.

This time of year is also flu season, which may make already-vulnerable populations, such as seniors, even more susceptible to COVID-19. Also, large sections of the country, particularly the Midwest and the Atlantic Seaboard, are having record low temperatures and snowfalls, so people who may be infected are more likely to be in close quarters with their family members.

Give patients a boost

Vitamin D is one of the biggest immunity boosters, yet numerous studies have shown that the vast majority of Americans are not getting enough.

Although this has been a cause for concern for quite some time, it is even more so now, which is why there has been increased consumer interest in vitamin D supplements. Read further to find out more about the link between vitamin D and COVID, and increased consumer interest about its benefits.

Respiratory illnesses, vitamin D and COVID

The link between vitamin D and reduction of the inflammation process in respiratory infections is well known.

A 2019 paper published in the journal Respiratory Research performed a meta-analysis to look for similar patterns among smaller papers reporting on the connection between low vitamin D levels, and adult and pediatric patients with asthma.2 In pooling the results from these papers, the researchers found that those patients with low vitamin D levels also had lower lung function than did those with higher levels.

A short communication paper, published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, reported a possible similar link between vitamin D and COVID.3 This paper compared vitamin D levels among elderly COVID-19 patients by geographical region. The researchers found that patients in more northern regions, such as the Nordic countries, had higher vitamin D levels because they used supplements to offset lack of exposure to direct sunlight.

In comparison, patients in more southern climates, such as Mediterranean areas, had lower vitamin D levels, as a result of avoiding strong sun exposure. From this, the researchers concluded that vitamin D supplements could be beneficial for elderly patients with COVID-19.3

Greater consumer interest in vitamin D supplements

Recent results from a marketing survey put out by a company that produces vitamin D-based ingredients for food, beverages and supplements, found that two-thirds (66%) of the 500 physically active adults who participated in the survey were concerned that their vitamin D levels may not be sufficient to boost their immunity.4

Furthermore, 75% of the youngest adults – those between the ages of 25 and 34 – were concerned that they were not getting enough vitamin D in their diet.

The survey was conducted between Oct. 8-14, 2020, in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. The level of concern that participants showed regarding their vitamin D levels directly correlated to how restrictive COVID-19 guidelines were in each country.

New Zealand, which had the least restrictive guidelines during the survey period, also had the lowest percentage of concern (53%). In comparison, 69% of respondents in Australia, and 72% of those in the United States expressed concern about their vitamin D intake.4

As a result of this increased interest in vitamin D, your patients are very likely to have done their own research before asking your opinion on vitamin D and COVID. This makes a perfect opportunity for you to educate your patients on the benefits of vitamin D during the current pandemic, as well as promote supplements if you already have them available in your office.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Cases and Deaths in the U.S. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. Updated Dec. 20, 2020.
  2. Liu J, Dong YQ, Yin J, et al. Meta-analysis of vitamin D and lung function in patients with asthma. Respiratory Research. 2019;20(1):161.
  3. Ilie PC, Stefanescu S, Smith L. The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research. 2020 Jul;32(7):1195-1198.
  4. Lockdown, COVID fuel renewed interest in vitamin D. Nutraingredients-usa.com. Accessed Dec.20.2020.

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