How Vitamin D Helps Protect You from Viral Infection

With COVID-19 top-of-mind, we’re all trying to think of ways to better prepare for (and prevent) respiratory illnesses and viral infection. Though there are many precautions you can take, making sure you’re getting enough important micronutrients – such as vitamin D – is a simple way to reduce your risk.

“The human body was designed to make vitamin D on a daily basis, yet due to our sedentary lifestyle, use of SPF products and spending more time inside than outside, our vitamin D levels are often subpar,” says Dr. Chris Meletis, N.D. and medical advisor for Notch. “The reality is that even when vitamin D is supplemented, it is often not absorbed adequately or is dosed too low to reach optimal levels.”

Why is vitamin D important?

Like many other micronutrients, vitamin D plays a crucial role in strengthening your immune system and fending off illnesses. In addition to an increased risk of viral infection, low vitamin D levels can contribute to:

  • Poor gut and lung health
  • Exacerbated allergies
  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis

By managing your vitamin D levels, you’re not only improving your overall health, but decreasing your risk of infection with the flu, COVID-19 and other viruses.

What is the link between vitamin D and viral infection?

Your lungs have their own microbiome, or – in more simple terms – community of microorganisms that help keep in balance and support your immune system. By ensuring you’re getting enough vitamin D, you’re not only building your immunity, but also supporting your lung and respiratory health

Does that mean vitamin D can protect you from COVID-19?

Yes and no. While vitamin D provides your body with a lot of viral-combatting properties, it isn’t a stand-alone method for preventing viruses like COVID-19 and definitely shouldn’t be treated as such. That being said, healthy vitamin D levels may influence the severity of COVID-19 infections.

“Research published in scientific medical literature shows that vitamin D is important for immune competence and—when at deficient levels—is associated with increased risk of disease,” says Meletis. “Of course, there are many other variables, such as a healthy diet, exercise and sufficient sleep."

What are some symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency?

Fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches and a lack of energy are all commonly associated with vitamin D deficiency. However, there are currently more than 1 billion people worldwide with insufficient levels of vitamin D, many of whom experience few (if any) symptoms. Since many other medical conditions share similar symptoms, it's important to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your health plan.

How do I know if I’m getting enough vitamin D?

If you’re experiencing even just one or two of these symptoms, the easiest way to find out if you’re getting enough vitamin D is to test for it. Notch's Vitamin D Test can be conducted at home and completed in just a few simple steps.

One of the most important things to avoid is self-diagnosing. Though vitamin D deficiencies can lead to many different health issues, there are also side effects of receiving too much vitamin D. After you get your results, it’s worth consulting with a medical professional about what’s best for your body.

My results show I’m not getting enough Vitamin D. Now what?

Fortunately, there are a few relatively straightforward methods for treating a vitamin D deficiency. Sun exposure and consuming vitamin-D-rich foods, such as salmon and fortified orange juice, are a couple of ways you can increase your vitamin D intake. Both vitamin D2 and D3 can also be found in supplement form. The greater your deficiency, the quicker you’re likely to see results (which can start showing in as little as two weeks).

Once you and your doctor have come up with a solution, make sure to monitor your vitamin D levels so you can evaluate what is and isn’t working. Each person is different, so it’s important to be flexible and listen to your body.

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