Dr. JoAnn Manson is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts. I have had the pleasure of hearing her speak at many meetings of the North American Menopause Society. Amongst her various areas of research, Dr. Manson has looked at the impact of Vitamin D supplementation.
In a recent Medscape post, Dr. Manson identified Vitamin D’s role in boosting immune function against viral diseases. It also has an immune-modulating effect that can lower inflammation and this can have a positive impact on the excessive inflammation some COVID-19 patients have experienced – especially in the lungs. People with respiratory infections have been known to have lower Vitamin D levels. Dr. Manson also reports that three South Asian hospitals have analyzed Vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients finding that those with a deficiency had much higher levels of severe disease compared to those without deficiency who had milder COVID-19 symptoms.
Although the dietary recommendation is 600-800 units of Vitamin D daily, during this time concern with COVID-19, supplementing with 1,000-2,000 units is reasonable. We have found Vitamin D in the drop form, which is absorbed directly from the mouth cavity can provide greater absorption than tablets. Of course sunlight is also a good source of Vitamin D and can only be absorbed when a person is not wearing sunscreen, so moderation is the key as unprotected exposure should be limited.
I look forward to sharing Dr. Manson’s future research which will be a randomized clinical trial looking at moderate to high doses of Vitamin D in how it may impact on lowering the risk of developing COVID-19 as well as impacting on illness severity.
Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health. Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.