The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)
Vitamin D helps your health
Vitamin D — the sunshine vitamin — is not simply a vitamin (or maybe not a vitamin at all). Recently endocrinologists and nutritionists have recognized that it’s a prohormone! Now that doesn’t mean it is a professional hormone (like The Rock?) — it means it’s converted in the body into a hormone. While you need to get most of the other 12 named vitamins from food, only about 10% of the vitamin D the body needs comes from what you eat. Your body is able — and has to — make the rest.
What does vitamin D, er, prohormone D do? Its job in the body turns out to be far, far more complex than we used to know. The big headline is that new research shows it’s significantly protective if you happen to catch COVID-19. An observational study looked at 77 people, mean age 88, in a ward where everyone had COVID-19. The goal was to see if taking vitamin D supplements had an impact on their ability to survive the infection over a 14-day period of time. The research, published in the journal Nutrients, found that elderly people who had been taking vitamin D regularly for 12 months before becoming sick had a 93.1% survival rate compared to 81.7% survival rate in the more recent supplementers. Those who did not take any D had a survival rate of 68.7%.
The long-term D-takers were getting doses of 50,000 IU vitamin D3 per month or doses of 80,000 IU or 100,000 IU vitamin D3 every two to three months. The recent supplementers had not regularly gotten supplements but did receive an oral dose of 80,000 IU vitamin D3 within a few hours of their diagnosis of COVID-19.
These findings are echoed in a Spanish pilot study: Among 76 patients hospitalized for COVID-19, 50 were treated with vitamin D and only one then required admission to the ICU. But in a group of 26 patients who did not get vitamin D, 13 had to go into intensive care.
According to the Hormone Health Network, not only is it essential for regulation of blood calcium levels and bone strength, it plays a role in immune strength, and heart and mental health. Vitamin D also helps regulate the stress hormones adrenaline and norepinephrine and the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. If you have a vitamin D deficiency you are at increased risk of infections, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, chronic stress-related physical and emotional issues and depression.