While Americans—and people across the globe—wait in anxious anticipation for a vaccination or treatment for COVID-19, many feel incredibly vulnerable. And while it’s important to take as many protective measures as possible to avoid exposure to the coronavirus, there are also a number of things we can do to bolster our health and inner defenses, as well.
Recently, more and more health experts have drawn attention to the various ways we should be building up our strength and immune health. From proper sleep to regular (moderate) exercise to a nutrient-dense diet, a number of lifestyle factors play a critical role in our ability to stay well—especially in these acutely distressing times.
One health factor that may play a particularly important role: our vitamin D status.
Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because we synthesize it in response to sun exposure, vitamin D has a number of important roles in the body. In addition to supporting hormonal balance, a healthy mood, and strong bones, it’s also a major player in immune health. In fact, low vitamin D levels have been linked with a number of health issues.
Read More: 7 Signs You Have A Vitamin D Deficiency
Now, a study just published in PLOS ONE has identified a potential connection between vitamin D levels and coronavirus infection.
The Study Breakdown
To investigate the relationship between vitamin D levels and coronavirus infection, the researchers analyzed the COVID-19 test results and vitamin D levels of more than 190,000 patients from across all 50 states. They then compared positive or negative infection results with data on the patients’ D levels from throughout the last year.
The results: The researchers identified a strong, inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and positive COVID-19 tests. (This was true regardless of patients’ age, ethnicity, or location.) Basically, the higher a patient’s vitamin D, the less likely they were to test positive. The lower their D levels, the more likely they were to test positive.
According to the researchers, these results indicate the need to further explore the role of vitamin D in clinical settings.
To support adequate vitamin D levels, the National Institutes of Health recommends that everyone between ages one and 70 consume 600 IU (15 micrograms) of vitamin D per day. Since most people receive minimal sun exposure, especially in fall and winter months, focus on food sources like fatty fish and fortified milks and cereals. Or, per the study authors’ conclusion, consider taking a vitamin D supplement to support healthy levels.
If you’re concerned about your vitamin D levels, your doctor can confirm your status with a simple blood test.
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