Vitamin D and Covid ‘crucial role information’ is first of KwikChex new safeguarding initiative
Whilst working on a large safeguarding project to provide verified information on health supplements, KwikChex became aware of increasing numbers of reports on the role vitamin D appears to be playing in the severity of illness experienced by many.
Reports are showing that a very substantial percentage of people hospitalised by Covid are vitamin D deficient. There has been debate about this for some time, particularly as it was felt that the research conducted did not involve large enough sampling and / or robust enough testing methods. But the evidence has grown to the point that it appears impossible for people to dismiss it or even take it lightly.
What is being said by an increasing number of scientists about the link between vitamin D deficiency and grave Covid illness?
Research conducted on people hospitalised with Covid is showing remarkably high numbers are suffering from vitamin D deficiency. The type of statements being made include the likes of the following
“Study finds over 80 percent of COVID-19 patients have vitamin D deficiency”
That was published back in October last year by the Endocrine Society, which states it has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. There have been suggestions that it was Covid that was actually causing this vitamin deficiency – but the latest research and historical research on vitamin D deficiency appears to demonstrate that the number of people in the world that have what is considered insufficient levels is very high – and looking at in from the other direction, indications seem to be that there is a significantly reduced risk of serious Covid illness if levels are sufficient.
In March this year, a team led by Dr. Michael Holick, professor of medicine at Boston University, published their research findings, stating “Among aged 65 years old or over, vitamin D sufficiency was associated with statistically significantly decreased rates of death, ICU admission, intubation, ARDS, and severe sepsis/septic shock. After adjustment for potential confounders, the association between vitamin D sufficiency and death, ARDS, and severe sepsis/septic shock remained statistically significant”
There is much in common between types of people that are prone to vitamin D deficiency and people suffering severe Covid illness and thus is another factor being put forward. The following types have all been identified as being more prone to vitamin D deficiency and serious Covid illness.
Overall, as has been acknowledged from the beginning of the Covid crisis, good / poor health is the most significant factor.
Conditions where there are parallels – i.e., where vitamin D deficiency is high and serious Covid illness is also a significantly elevated risk include
· Obesity & overweight
· Cardiovascular disease
· Some cancers
· Several drugs and substances, including cancer treatment drugs and steroids
Also just added to official Covid higher risk lists and in common with vitamin D deficiency is a mental health aspect, with depression included.
Demographic groups with both elements in common include
· Older people – increasing so from 65 onwards
· Darker skinned race types – i.e., Black, Latino and Southern Asians
· Pregnant and recently pregnant women
Although the exact correlations are still being researched, these commonalities are a significant reason for the growing interest from scientists, medical practitioners and the public.
What does seem very clear is the correlation between a range of specific ‘health deficiencies’ and the susceptibility to serious illness with Covid-19. So a huge consensus of experts agree that working to overcome the cause of the core deficiencies through ‘health optimisation’ will not only reduce the impact of Covid – it will also reduce the number of people severely affected by all the conditions that make the effect of Covid worse – and that of course can reduce the severe strains on healthcare systems.
Calls on authorities to consider using Vitamin D boosting to help avoid serious Covid illness.
Among the many recent voices to speak up on the subject is Dr John Campbell, an English retired nurse teacher and A&E nurse that has a very popular (1.43 million subscribers) YouTube channel, which he has been using to provide information on Covid. His clear updates on Covid developments and the explanations he provides for the scientific data he cites and presents are without a doubt, the reasons for his popularity. He has followed and endorsed official information and advice since the start of the pandemic and is in no way a controversial figure. But in recent times, he has become more and more frustrated at what he believes is a failure to take notice of using a simple method that could potentially significantly lower hospitalisations and deaths attributed to Covid. Recently, when going over the available research and statistics, he went as far as to say that continuing to ignore this factor may even be a case of negligence – titling one video “Vitamin D, government inaction”. His YouTube channel can be found on the following link https://www.youtube.com/user/Campbellteaching
Raising Vitamin D levels advice
For many years, health authorities and medical experts have recommended the taking of vitamin D supplements when there is an increased chance of insufficient levels in people’s bodies – particularly in northern climates during the winter months. There are also such recommendations to the many people more at risk of deficiency, including people with dark skins. The advice now being provided by several scientists, including that cited in Dr Campbell’s video guidance recommends significant boosting of levels through taking supplements. The information also includes recommendations on dosage and elements such as additionally taking vitamin K, which helps avoid a build-up of calcium in the blood when taking higher levels of vitamin D. In addition, further research has been carried out on how vitamin D helps prevent serious symptoms by helping to regulate the body’s immune system. Very importantly, scientists have been publishing research and opinions explaining this means that vitamin D is also helping to prevent an overreaction *known as a ‘cytokine storm’ – and that it is an immune system overreaction that can be a major factor in Covid serious illness.
This is also said to be a possible factor in what is being termed ‘Long Covid’. Not surprisingly, the research also points out the potential non-Covid health benefits too, as it has long been understood that these deficiencies are a factor in several others serious illnesses.
KwikChex role – verified information to safeguard consumers
KwikChex has been evaluating online information since 2010, working closely with experts and authorities to help consumers find best advice and avoid scams (and help recover monies lost to scams).
In this case, we can see that what would be regarded as trusted resources have provided clear correlation between vitamin D sufficiency and the outcomes of Covid -19 infections, and that there appears to be a growing consensus in this respect. It is therefore likely that more people will be drawn towards ensuring that they have sufficient levels of vitamin D.
Good, verified information
In the best possible positive scenario, encouraging and possibly administering Vitamin D ‘boosting’ amongst groups that have been shown to be most vulnerable to Covid-19 may help prevent serious illness and ease the pressure on health services – but of course, it needs to be made clear that vitamin D, whilst apparently playing a significant role in the levels of severity of Covid symptoms and outcomes, is not a cure and cannot prevent infection – and it is being advocated by some expert sources as a potential additional measure to lower serious illness – not a replacement for vaccines.
Potential scams and misrepresentations
When there is a new, big demand for types of products (often driven by significant news events), scammers and less than honest people and businesses always try to take advantage. KwikChex has already seen this in multiple ways during the Covid crisis, with fake products and services and unsubstantiated claims proliferating.
As it appears that vitamin D will increasingly hit the news over the coming months and demand is likely to rise exponentially, it will be very important that consumers have access to information regarding legitimate products that have been properly and independently tested – and on those that may be misleading consumers. KwikChex will be helping to provide such information.
Vitamin D Supplements
Whilst vitamin D can be found in many foods and is naturally synthesised through exposure to sunlight, the taking of supplements appears to be the most recommended way (by medical experts) for those that do need to boost their levels. These experts also recommend vitamin D3 as being the most efficient (as opposed to vitamin D2). Also explained are the benefits of additionally taking vitamin K2 (to help regulate calcium levels) and taking the supplements with food (for better absorption).
However, nutritional products do not have the same stringent regulatory requirements as medicines and past investigations have revealed problems; from the amount of vitamins contained in the product, to fake and counterfeit products – and some that can be dangerous because of their contents, which have for example found to contain traces of nuts and other substances that could trigger allergic reactions in some people.
Initial evaluations using expert guidance indicates that at present, the majority of vitamin D3 supplements being sold by well-known retailers are safe and it’s noticeable that most being sold online through Amazon are via the manufacturers own Amazon stores, which greatly reduces risks.
What KwikChex anticipates though, is that the likely increased demand for vitamin D3 (and the complementary vitamin K2) will also increase attempts by fraudsters to scam consumers with fake and misleading products. KwikChex will therefore be providing advice on which products have been independently tested and trusted purchasing sources. We will also provide updates and alerts to consumers that register for them.
Vitamin D through ultraviolet light
Vitamin D is produced in the body by exposure to ultraviolet light. In locations that tend to be sunny all year around, sensible exposure to sunlight may be sufficient to generate healthy levels. But many living far from the equator will have very reduced exposure to maintain sufficiency. Many others, regardless of location, may also have difficulty in sufficiency owing to factors such as age, race and some medical conditions. Health officials also caution against the potential carcinogenic effects of over-exposure to the sun.
There are products that provide ultraviolet light artificially, and these are usually described as ‘sunlamps’ However, again health experts urge caution in the use of such products.
In addition, KwikChex discovered that online searches using the term ‘vitamin D lamps’ will produce a common Amazon advert result – but clicking on this leads to mostly products known as ‘SAD lamps’, which are sold as ways to help alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which do not have an effect on vitamin D levels. This appears generally to be an advert generation anomaly, as the featured products are not making claims related to vitamin D.
Vitamin D Level Testing
There are a number of ‘home tests’ available for sale online that state they can provide very accurate and rapid vitamin D level results that are entirely self-conducted. KwikChex will be asking experts to evaluate these, but in the meantime, the expert consensus is of course, to consult your doctor if you feel you may be susceptible to vitamin D deficiency and would like to know your precise levels.
There are also home tests that include posting back to professional laboratories. These are considered by some experts to be more reliable, but likely to be more expensive.
Doctors can also arrange for testing, but perhaps you should bear in mind the strain on medical services.
You can first consider the expert guidance available which outlines many useful facts about vitamin D deficiency, including symptoms, who is likely to be most vulnerable to the condition and ways to resolve it. One of the most informative sources KwikChex has found online is provided by the ‘Cleveland Clinic’ website – https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d–vitamin-d-deficiency
Other useful links
Underlying Medical Conditions Associated with Higher Risk for Severe COVID-19: Information for Healthcare Providers https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-care/underlyingconditions.html COVID-19 Information for Specific Groups of People https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html
Screening for Vitamin D Deficiency in Adults. US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2778487
Note – the content in this article refers to expert opinions and research data that can be found online. KwikChex is reporting on verifiable content, not providing health advice.
Further verifiable information, such as updates on expert advice and expert reports on products for sale (including independent testing and certification) will follow.
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