Posted on Apr 15, 2020, 4 p.m.
We are hearing a lot about ARDS in the news lately with a lot of recent deaths being linked to it. While many with acute respiratory distress syndrome will recover, some will have the misfortune of losing their lives.
Doctors are working to understand why it is some patients are faring better than others with this outbreak, when it comes to ARDS some studies have already shown that it is linked to low levels of vitamin D.
A peer reviewed study published in the journal Critical Care examined lung epithelial cells in a lab dish as well as in animals and humans in clinical settings, the researchers determined that a dietary induced vitamin D deficiency led to lung inflammation and damage. During the clinical study all of the patients with ARDS were found to have a vitamin D deficiency which was defined as blood levels less than 50 nmol/L.
Those patients with extremely low levels which was defined as being less that 8 ng/mL were found to have 3.5 times greater likelihood of developing ARDS than those with vitamin D levels greater than 8. Increasing their vitamin D levels to correct levels was found to have reduced lung damage and led to improved survival rates.
If that study is not compelling enough to ensure you have adequate vitamin D levels, a deficiency can also increase the risk for experiencing a viral or bacterial infection, as well as increasing the risk of mortality in those with pneumonia. Evidence also suggests that reduced levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of developing pneumonia and breast cancer, whereas optimal levels have the opposite effect and levels of 55 ng/mL or higher can decrease the risk of developing all cancers by as much as 35%.
Vitamin D levels of 20 ng/mL are typically considered to be adequate, but some experts suggest that higher numbers may be better for some, such as a study from the University of California suggesting that the minimum levels for protective health benefits are 60 ng/mL.
Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin because spending time in the sun soaking in the rays tells the body to create it, which is why exposure to direct sunlight is the recommended way to get vitamin D naturally. The precise amount of time a person needs to spend in the sunshine will depend on time of day, season, location, weather, skin tone and many other factors, in general 20 minutes of sun exposure about 2-3 times a week should be enough.
Aside from direct sunlight exposure vitamin D can also be found in some foods such as mushrooms, cheese, and fatty fish, but it is difficult to obtain enough through food sources alone. Those who try to avoid the sun or are not able to get enough exposure may want to consider taking a supplement such as vitamin D3(cholecalciferol) or cod liver oil which also has the benefit of providing other compounds such as vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids which are linked to a variety of health benefits such as reducing inflammation.
With there being so much to learn about this novel virus that is continuing to spread and sicken countless people some of whom will unfortunately lose their battles, anything that we can do to boost our immune system and tilt the odds in our favour are worth the efforts especially when it is something as easy as increasing our levels of vitamin D; which also provides a host of other health benefits such as fighting depression and other diseases.
As always it is recommended to consult with your physician or a certified medical professional before beginning anything new to ask questions and avoid any possible complications.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.