Vitamin D Deficiency Associated With 50% Increased Risk of Catching COVID-19

Published: March 18, 2021

Vitamin D

I have often discussed the importance of vitamin D in helping protect you from COVID-19. In fact, numerous studies have shown that people with low vitamin D levels are much more likely to die if they catch COVID-19. The research is so convincing that even Dr. Fauci says that he takes vitamin D supplements for this very reason. And he rarely recommends any natural treatments for health issues!

But the association between vitamin D and COVID-19 has created a massive "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" question. On one hand, severe illnesses can cause vitamin D levels to drop. On the other hand, maybe it's low vitamin D that increases susceptibility to catching COVID-19. With this virus being so new to us, we didn't know the answer. And to get the answer, we would need to have had a massive number of people tested for their vitamin D levels before they became infected. How in the heck was one to get that information!?

Here's how…

An Elegantly Simple Study

In an elegantly simple study designed by my favorite vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael Holick partnered with a major national lab to get the results of everyone who had been tested for coronavirus, while also having been tested for their vitamin D level within 12 months prior to the virus test, with the goal being to determine if people who had lower vitamin D levels were later more likely to get the virus.

The answer? A resounding yes! And with a study sample size that turned out to be 191,779 people!

There was also a point found at which the vitamin D level approached and exceeded 55 ng/m, after which there was no additional protection. So beyond a certain amount of vitamin D, more was not better. Here's specifically what he found:

  • 12.5% of people with marked vitamin D deficiency (<20 ng/mL, which is about 20 % of the population) tested positive for COVID-19.
  • 8.1% of people with adequate levels of vitamin D (30-34 ng/mL, which is about 14% of the population) tested positive for COVID-19.
  • 6.6% of people (I am estimating here from the data presented) with higher levels of vitamin D (35-54 ng/mL, which is about 60% of the population) tested positive for COVID-19.
  • 5.9-6% of people with optimal levels of vitamin D (55 ng/mL or higher, which is about 6% of the population) tested positive for COVID-19.

The important takeaway from this is that optimal levels of vitamin D were associated with a greater than 50% decreased risk of getting COVID-19! That was similar to what was seen in earlier research, just as it was similar to other studies that showed people who had low vitamin D levels and who got the virus were twice as likely to be hospitalized.

The Bottom Line?

Optimizing vitamin D is associated with a 50% lower risk of getting COVID-19. And then an additional 50% or more lower risk of dying if one does get it. Rough calculations suggest that the death rate nationally would've been cut by about 33% by simply optimizing vitamin D levels.

My recommendation? Consider 10,000 units a day for one month to "fill the tank" if you have not been taking a vitamin D supplement. After that, supplement with 1,000-3,000 units of vitamin D daily. (Note: A rare exception to this is for those with elevated calcium levels from problems such as cancer that is metastatic to a person's bones. If you have this condition, you should consult your physician for advice on taking vitamin D).
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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