Is Mega-Dosing Vitamin D for Covid safe and useful?
Short answer: When taken in reasonable amounts Vitamin D is generally considered safe and reasonable. Megadosing Vitamin D is not safe without a doctor’s advice as it can lead to dangerous and sometimes permanent. Because of its role in supporting the immune system, many medical researchers are promoting it as a way to help prevent or reduce symptoms in Covid-19 patients. Other researchers are cautious, suggesting it may cause additional damage when taken in larger then needed amounts, due to what happens when your immune system fights off the Covid-19 Virus.
Read on to find out more what researchers are saying about Covid-19 and vitamin D, how to naturally maintain healthy vitamin D levels, and the dangers of vitamin D toxicity based on real scientific research.
Positive effects of vitamin D
Vitamin D helps to support the immune system. It helps to prevent osteoporosis as it helps the body to regulate the absorption of phosphorus and calcium. vitamin D has also been shown to help regulate mood, some find that proper vitamin D levels helps to reduce depression and anxiety.
Toxic effects of too much vitamin D
Overdosing of Vitamin D without a doctor monitoring your blood can result in nausea, weakness, mental issues, and bone pain. Too much vitamin D raises the level of calcium in your blood. This can lead to tissue calcification that can cause permanent damage to the heart, kidneys and blood vessels.
Why can it be toxic?
Vitamins, like everyday substances, can dissolve in water or fats differently. Some vitamins, like vitamin C, are water-soluble so the body just urinates out what it doesn’t need. Overdosing on these can still cause some side effects, such as diarrhea, but it’s extremely hard to get to dangerous levels for healthy individuals.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble. That means that it dissolves in fats and oils. Your body can’t get rid of these kinds of vitamins as easily as ones like Vitamin C. Over time, it builds up in the body and messes up your blood-calcium levels wreaking havoc in your body. Therefore you may not experience problems with mega-dosing right away, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be harmful in the long run. That is why those taking giant doses of vitamin D should be monitored by a doctor using blood tests to ensure your body is not getting too much.
As a general precaution, vitamin D supplementation can interact with certain medications as well including steroids, certain weight-loss drugs and certain epilepsy medications according to the National Institution of Health fact sheet on vitamin D.
What do the medical professionals say about Covid-19 and Vitamin D?
Note: This section was written in July 2020. Information may change as further research is done.
It is true that there have been studies regarding the usefulness in Vitamin D preventing and lessening the effects of Covid-19. The issue is many of these have not been peer-reviewed yet and are not based off of studies done specifically on Covid-19 patients according to Dr. Kathleen Souzi of Yale. Peer-reviewing is important as that is the process whereby other experts review the processes, observations, and experiments of the scientific article in question. Basically it’s like double-checking that what is written is true and accurate.
Since it helps your system with other problems so why are some warning about using it against Covid-19? Well Covid-19 is it’s own thing and it turns out some doctors feel turning down the immune response is better than turning it up when it comes to Covid-19 because some patient’s immune systems overreact to the virus doing more damage to itself then the virus during what is called a cytokine storm. An article by Yale Medicine has a statement by Dr. Thomas Carpenter stating: “Indeed, an overactive immune response is what some believe may cause persistent high fevers, severe respiratory problems, and lung damage in severe Covid-19 cases. “
The drug hydroxychloroquine that was hyped earlier this year wasn’t because it fights a virus, it’s because it lowers the immune response. It is typically used in those with auto-immune disorders in addition to fighting malaria. People with auto-immune disorders have issues because their immune system attacks their healthy body so hydroxychloroquine lowers their immune system so it does less damage to their body. The problem is it also means they are more likely to get an infection because their immune system won’t be able to fight it off. Despite hydroxychloroquine being generally no longer considered an option for Covid-19 treatment, other drugs are still being experimented with that lower the immune system. As one might imagine, these drugs are dangerous in their own right as it leaves those taking them at a huge risk for other infections. We can thus see the correlation why large doses of Vitamin D might actually be dangerous for Covid-19 patients causing it to potentially overreact and cause some of the permanent damage some Covid-19 survivors are experiencing.
How much Vitamin D do experts recommend per day?
600iu. Supplementation up to 2000iu daily is generally considered safe according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Natural Ways to Get Vitamin D
Sunshine, however if you wear sunscreen it can block your ability to get the part of sunshine that gives your body what it needs to make vitamin D. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation going without sunscreen can have worse issues. See the references below on their article regarding this topic.
There are a few sources of vitamin D from food. Milk products made with Vitamin D fortified milk can be helpful. Eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products and certain lean meats contain vitamin D. Seafood is especially suggested and one source suggested to supplement with cod liver oil.
References and Further Reading
Cleveland Clinic, Vitamin D Deficiency.
Healthline: The Benefits of Vitamin D
Mayo Clinic by Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. : What is Vitamin D toxicity?
Medscape Medical Societies Advise on Vitamin D in Midst of COVID-19
by Becky McCall July 10, 2020
M Health Labs: Drug That Calms ‘Cytokine Storm’ Associated with 45% Lower Risk of Dying among COVID-19 Patients on Ventilators by Kara Gavin July 13, 2020https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/body-work/drug-calms-cytokine-storm-associated-45-lower-risk-of-dying-among-covid-19-patients-on
National Instititute of Health: Vitamin D Fact Sheet
News Medical Life Sciences More evidence on vitamin D deficiency and death rates from COVID-19 By Sally Robertson, B.Sc July 2, 2020
Science Magazine: How does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toeshttps://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/how-does-coronavirus-kill-clinicians-trace-ferocious-rampage-through-body-brain-toes
Skin Cancer Foundation: Sun Protection and Vitamin D
Yale Medicine: Vitamin D Deficiency and COVID-19: Is There a Connection? by Carrie MacMillian, June 11, 2020.