Throughout the rise of COVID-19 and its variants, there has been frequent conversation about whether Vitamin D supplementation is helpful for protecting people from either the virus itself, or in lessening its impact if you catch it. But there has been much more than just discussion: there has also been cold, hard science.
We here at LYMA are very pro Vitamin D for all round general health - hence why the powerful, proven Vita-algae D3™ is one of our hero ingredients, dosed at 2,000 i.u. (the optimal level proven by clinical trials). We are glad to see science is now also backing Vitamin D in the fight against the pandemic: a study published by The Royal Society noted that "evidence linking vitamin D deficiency with COVID-19 severity is circumstantial but considerable." Whilst another found that the countries in Europe with lower vitamin D lates also had higher COVID-19 death rates.
But there are also calls out there not to overdo Vitamin D consumption. As Vitamin D is often packaged with calcium, there have been suggestions that excessive consumption of Vitamin D can lead to build-ups of calcium, which can in turn lead to atrial fibrilation, vascular calcification and ‘drainpipe arteries’.
However there is not enough research to prove this claim, in part because there is a small profit margin on producing Vitamin D supplements, meaning pharmaceutical companies are less inclined to carry out the large-scale research needed.
Dr John Campbell on Vitamin D and Vitamin K2
So we asked the experts. Firstly, this video by retired nurse educator and YouTube commentator Dr John Campbell does an excellent job of decoding the efficacy and importance of Vitamin D. Hence why it's already garnered a lot of interest from an audience who have long turned to him for advice on COVID-19. In the video, he takes a look at this study from the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, published by open access publisher MDPI, which has attracted much attention since it was published.
Campbell draws from the report that low Vitamin D can be connected to viral lung infections (that cause acute respiratory distress syndrome), chronic inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis and more. The report also confirms that Vitamin D is needed by our body to strengthen its immune system. The summary Campbell takes from the report is that low Vitamin D levels have the following results:
- An "increased spread of diseases in civilisation” (obesity, high pressure, diabetes, etc.)
- A “reduced protection against infections”
- A “reduced effectiveness of vaccination"
Campbell also confirms that Vitamin K2 plays a vital role in the efficacy of supplementary Vitamin D.
Vitamin D Daily Maintenance Dose
The conclusion of the study, which Dr John Campbell backs, is that Britons need much more Vitamin D than is currently recommended. The report recommends between 4,000 to 10,000 international units (i.u.) of vitamin D per day, while current guidance from the NHS is only 400 i.u. per day. The report goes even further, suggesting the Vitamin D maintenance dose may need to be at the higher end - or even higher still - for certain groups:
- If you live in the northern parts of the world, and get less sun exposure than those in the south.
- If you're elderly, or spend more time indoors during the day.
- People with highly melanated skin, including Black Britons. Why? “People with a naturally dark skin tone have natural sun protection and require at least three to five times longer exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D as a person with a white skin tone," Dr Ingrid Wilson, Director of Crewe Hair and Skin Clinic in Cheshire, explained in our guide to the best skincare for black skin.
The concern over calcium build up from high supplementation of Vitamin D can be prevented, Campbell says, by taking 200 micrograms (μg) of Vitamin K daily.
Vitamin K2 - what does it do?
Vitamin K2 will take any calcium and prevent it from going from the blood into tissue (and provide a healthy amount to bones.) By doing this, it prevents unnecessary calcification. "If you are trying to improve skeletal health, K and D work together," explains LYMA Science Director Dr Paul Clayton. "D improves the uptake of calcium and magnesium, and then the K helps to build those elements into bone.
"If you are aiming at immune health, D and K work together in a different way," he says. "D improves certain aspects of innate and adaptive immunity, K adds some anti-inflammatory benefits."
The NHS suggests that you should be able to get "all the vitamin K you need by eating a varied and balanced diet." Dr Campbell recommends supplementing with additional Vitamin K if you're increasing the amount of Vitamin D you are taking.
For reference, The LYMA Supplement also includes 75μg of daily Vitamin K in our patented K2VITAL® DELTA ingredient.
Vitamin D and COVID
While there is research to suggest lower levels of Vitamin D are present in places with higher COVID death rates, and other research to suggest people with higher rates are able to fight against COVID and its variants, Dr Clayton stresses that Vitamin D is not a panacea. "The idea that if you get to some vanishing point - the legendary optimally high dose of D - you achieve immunity, is too much to swallow," he says.
Dr Campbell claims that Vitamin D3 has a protective role against the acute respiratory distress syndrome caused by the Covid-19 Omicron variant. This is being investigated by further studies. While good vitamin D levels won't prevent exposure to the variant, Dr Campbell's video references the conclusion of the MDPI-published study, which says "patients with sufficiently high D3 serum levels preceding the infection were highly unlikely to suffer a fatal outcome.”
Dr Clayton agrees that higher vitamin D levels are associated with improved immunological outcomes, "and this has been known for decades; sunbathing was a cure for tuberculosis as far back as 1910 , and more recently high dose D was shown to improve the cure rate in clinical TB."
While there is a relationship between "better D status and infection rates and outcomes," adds Clayton, "association does not prove causation." After all, healthier lifestyles tend to involve more outdoor exercise and a healthier diet, while lower levels are often associated with obesity (which is also a risk factor for poor Covid outcomes.)
While Dr Clayton does think that improving your D status with supplements will "likely reduce risk, this is not yet proven."
Originally published Dec 21, 2021.
Written by David Levesley.