Now that trying to protect ourselves against COVID is part of our “new normal,” at least for now, I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering what I can do to keep myself healthy during the pandemic. Simpler is better, as adopting even the smallest new habits can feel like a huge undertaking right now. That’s why I was excited to see a new population-based research study out of Israel that found that “suboptimal” Vitamin D levels appear to be an “independent risk factor” for acquiring a COVID-19 infection (1). So in addition to wearing my mask, washing my hands, and physical distancing, it seems that being mindful of my Vitamin D levels is something I can do to support my health during the pandemic.
What are “suboptimal” levels of Vitamin D? According to the study, “‘suboptimal’ or ‘low’ plasma 25(OH)D level was defined as plasma 25‐hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, concentration below the level of 30 ng/mL. (1)”
So, dig out any lab results you have from the past year and see if Vitamin D was measured. If your 25(OH) Vitamin D levels were below 30 ng/ml, you may want to follow the tips below. If you don’t have the results, consider asking your doctor if he/she would be willing to run that test. If your doctor is unwilling to measure your Vitamin D levels, get in touch and we’ll connect you with a lab that can measure Vitamin D for you.
How to increase Vitamin D levels
Ok, let’s say your Vitamin D levels are low, or you just want to do what you can to reduce your risks during the pandemic. How to build up vitamin D levels?
Get some sun. Seems simple right? For some people it is. The body converts sunlight to usable Vitamin D. However, for some people this doesn’t happen, or it doesn’t happen as effectively as is needed to preserve Vitamin D levels. Many things can go wrong:
Eat Vitamin D-rich foods. Eating Vitamin D-rich foods is a great way to increase our body’s Vitamin D levels. Unfortunately, only a few foods naturally contain Vitamin D. I’d invite you to check out the list below and see if there is a food you could increase your intake of. Again, things can go wrong – if you’re not digesting well, especially fats, it’s hard for your body to absorb the Vitamin D in foods. Get in touch if you’d like to explore your digestive health. In the meantime, here are some foods to include (2):
• Beef liver
• Egg yolk
• Fatty fish (e.g., mackerel, salmon, and tuna)
Supplement. Many people find it necessary to use nutritional supplements to keep their vitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL on their labs, thereby effectively supporting their immune systems. I find this to be a helpful solution for many of my clients.
Supplement quality matters. Unfortunately, nutritional supplements are not well regulated, so what’s on the bottle may not be exactly what is inside. And the quality can be highly variable. It’s important to take high-quality supplements so you are sure they are actually helping you to achive your health goals. That’s why I only recommend medical-grade supplements and personally vet the brands. If you think it might be a good idea to supplement with Vitamin D, check out my recommendations. You can also take advantage of the same discount I offer my private clients.
When supplementing with Vitamin D, be careful…as more, more, more is not necessarily better. Vitamin D does have a toxicity level (3). I’ve made recommendations for a good maintenance dosage here, but check in with me if you’re unsure about how much Vitamin D is right for you.
Vitamin D is necessary for optimal immune function, as well as for strong bones and a healthy heart. It’s easy to get more D - follow the tips above and consider a high-quality Vitamin D supplement to be sure.