Can Vitamin D Help Prevent COVID-19?

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: July 27, 2020

Living a healthy lifestyle, including eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and supplementing with vitamins when necessary, is one way to lower the risk of severe illness-related symptoms. Prior to the pandemic, a tickle in your throat or first sign of a runny nose may have even had you running to your medicine cabinet to increase your vitamin C, D or E intake. But does taking vitamins help keep you safe from the coronavirus? Recent research shows there may be a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and severity of a COVID-19 infection. Here’s what you need to know.
  1. What is vitamin D?
    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that aids in calcium absorption and bone growth and density, thus lowering the risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, vitamin D is used by the nerves in the body to carry messages from the brain. As a crucial vitamin for overall health, if you do not get enough vitamin D, side effects may include bone pain and muscle weakness.
  2. Where does it come from?
    There are three primary ways to consume vitamin D. Sunlight, which is absorbed through the skin when exposed to ultraviolet B rays, provides the easiest and strongest source of vitamin D. Salmon or other fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks all contain vitamin D but in minimal amounts. It occurs naturally in very few food sources. Many foods are fortified, meaning they are enriched with vitamin D by food manufacturers.
  3. Can vitamin D prevent COVID-19?
    Vitamin D naturally has anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties that are both crucial in promoting immune response and can help fight off viruses and bacteria. Those with decreased vitamin D levels may be less likely to remain healthy when coming into contact with an unhealthy individual. With recent developments indicating COVID-19 may be an inflammatory disease, increased levels of vitamin D may be helpful on both fronts. However, research directly correlating increased vitamin D levels and lower coronavirus risk are controversial. Thus far it remains to be seen if increasing vitamin D intake will assist in preventing or combatting COVID-19. However, vitamin D deficiencies are associated with some non-communicable diseases, like diabetes and hypertension, which can increase the risk of severe COVID-19.

The takeaway? More research is needed on vitamin D’s overall impact on COVD-19. In the meantime, if you are not exposed to enough sunlight, try increasing your intake of some good vitamin D food sources, or integrate a supplement into your daily vitamin regimen. Talk with your primary care provider or your pharmacist to see what supplement may be right for you. Eating a full spectrum diet with all the colors of the rainbow on your plate will naturally provide nutritious vitamin intake and boost your immune system, helping your body to fight harder against viruses and bacteria.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.