Low Vitamin D
The recent news linking low vitamin D to COVID-19 has turned many heads including my own. It's left many of us wondering about our own levels and adequacy.
Some of the most salient points in the scientific literature on vitamin D and COVID include:
1. 80% of COVID cases are vitamin D deficient.
2. Risk of testing positive for COVID is 77% higher in those with low vitamin D levels.
These links between vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 may be due to vitamin D's ability to increase white blood cells and ability to fight infection and regulate inflammation. Though much of the research is inconclusive and only makes associations between low vitamin D levels and COVID-19 risk and severity, it would be prudent to have your levels assessed as the benefits of vitamin D adequacy far outweigh the risks.
In addition to COVID-19 concerns, low vitamin D has also been linked to:
Low bone density and osteoporosis
Risk factors for low vitamin D levels include:
Limited sun exposure
Working night shift
Darker skin color
Living in northern latitudes
Malabsorption disorders (ie. Celiac, inflammatory bowel disease, gastric bypass surgery)
Kidney and/or liver disease
Medications (laxatives, cholesterol lowering drugs, steroid medications, anti-seizure medications)
Symptoms of low vitamin D:
Bone or muscle pain
Because symptoms are vague, the best way to know if you’re vitamin D deficient is to test. Vitamin D tests generally are not covered by OHIP and typically costs $35-40. You will need a lab requisition from a health care practitioner can then help determine the proper vitamin D dosage you’ll need to get your levels to a healthy range.
Natural sources of vitamin D include:
Sun exposure: Living in colder climates, with shorter days provides less UVB rays which hampers vitamin D production. Also consider air pollution, time of day (ideal is 10am to 2pm) and whether you live in the city (not ideal).
Cod liver oil: which generally provides about 1000iu per serving (check the label).
Fish (3oz): preferably salmon (450IU), tuna (150IU), sardines (175IU)
Beef liver (3oz) or egg yolk (1 large) provides about 40IU
If your levels are low, sun exposure and diet are likely not enough and the best way to get your levels up efficiently is to supplement orally or with vitamin D injections. However, vitamin D can accumulate in the body and become toxic, so make sure to retest your levels after supplementing with vitamin D for a period. Signs of vitamin D toxicity can include: nausea and vomiting, frequent urination, bone pain and kidney problems. Do not take high doses of vitamin D for prolonged periods.
Have more questions about vitamin D, or curious about your levels, get in touch with me and lets address your concerns.
Dr. Sophie, ND
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