Vitamin D is essential for human physiology. It helps us to absorb calcium, magnesium and phosphate which are all needed for strong bones. We also need Vitamin D to regulate sleep, for healthy skin and hair, and for immune system function. What’s more, it regulates 5% of our genome, and has been shown to provide a protective effect against respiratory lung infections(1). Evidence suggests this protective effect is likely to improve outcomes from COVID-19. We’re going to talk more about that research in just a moment. First, we need to talk about Vitamin D.
All about Vitamin D
It is estimated that a billion people worldwide are not getting enough Vitamin D(2), combining those who are insufficient or deficient in this critical fat-soluble hormone.
When you spend time in the sun, UVB light strikes the surface of your skin triggering the process of Vitamin D synthesis, with the active form of Vitamin D being made in the liver and kidneys.
Just how much Vitamin D you make depends on a range of factors: how close you live to the equator, the time of day, the time of year, how much skin is exposed, and how long you spend outside. Your skin colour also impacts on the amount of sun you will need for adequate Vitamin D levels, with darker skin containing more melanin which blocks some of the UVB light.
Living the indoor life
While sun exposure is the best source of Vitamin D for our health, our modern lifestyle has created a few obstacles to getting the UVB light that we need. We wear clothes, we apply sunscreen, and as a population we spend a whole lot more time indoors than our ancestors did. This makes supplementation a necessity for many people who would otherwise have depleted Vitamin D levels or poor Vitamin D status.
Vitamin D and coronavirus
One of the most difficult challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown has been that many of us don’t get to spend time outside, right when we need it the most.
Vitamin D has known immune system benefits, with research showing that poor Vitamin D status occurs in 90% of patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)(3). ARDS affects people with viral illnesses such as the flu and COVID-19.
Further studies have revealed the mechanism of how Vitamin D provides a protective effect for respiratory health, with ACE2 (Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2) playing a key role. ACE2 is an enzyme found in high volumes on the lung, kidney, heart, and gut cells.
You may have seen recent reports showing that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, (the virus that causes COVID-19) enters human cells via the ACE2 receptor(4).
The virus binds to the ACE2 receptor and travels inside the cell, where it downregulates ACE2 molecules, leading to severe respiratory issues in some cases. Researchers have shown that low ACE2 levels can be alleviated by Vitamin D supplementation(5) - with Vitamin D being shown to “normalize” ACE2 in animal models. This research also highlights that Vitamin D helps ACE2 levels reach homeostasis - in control groups Vitamin D does not further increase ACE2 levels past normal, only taking effect when ACE2 is low. This is covered in a lot more detail in a recent video post from Dr Rhonda Patrick, which is highly recommended if you’d like to learn more.
The best form of Vitamin D supplementation
Vitamin D supplementation is a simple way of ensuring that you get enough Vitamin D each and every day for strong immunity and overall health and wellbeing.
Rosita Extra-Virgin Cod Liver Oil (EVCLO) is a great source of Vitamin D in the cholecalciferol form, the same form that your body synthesizes from direct sunlight. As well as containing naturally-occurring Vitamin D, it is also a rich source of omega-3 and vitamin A, containing all the nutrients that are naturally present in the liver of a living codfish on the day it was caught.
As the world’s only truly raw and unprocessed cod liver oil, Rosita EVCLO is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. Check out our EVCLO range, including our great value multi-buy offers and try the highest-quality, health-giving oils nature has to offer.
1. BMJ - Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data - Feb 2017
2. NTL JNL HEALTH SCIENCES - Vitamin D Deficiency- An Ignored Epidemic Jan 2010
3. ATS Journals - Low Vitamin D Status Occurs in 90% of Patients with ARDS and Is Associated with Longer Duration of Mechanical Ventilation
4. Scientists figure out how new coronavirus breaks into human cells
5. Molecular Medicine - Vitamin D alleviates lipopolysaccharide-induced acute lung injury via regulation of the renin-angiotensin system - Sept 2017