Vitamin D and Respiratory Infections

Risa Groux, CN
 | Published: 
September 15, 2020

Globally, a significant percentage of the population has a deficiency in vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher prevalence of chronic disease. Past studies have also demonstrated that supplementing with vitamin D may help to reduce the risk of influenza. Viruses often occur in the winter when vitamin D levels are the lowest, and supplementation is often necessary in order to reach optimal levels.


In Nutrients, a review that was published a few months ago examined vitamin D’s potential effect in helping to minimize the risk of respiratory tract infections. According to this review, a deficiency in vitamin D has been associated with an increased risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome as well as chronic disease. An observational study in Connecticut,which included 198 healthy adults in the fall and winter of 2009 through 2010,demonstrated a decreased risk of acute respiratory tract infections in those deficient in vitamin D. Only 17% of participants who had a vitamin D level greater than 38 ng/mL developed an acute upper respiratory tract infection, compared to 45% in participants with a vitamin D level less than 38 ng/mL. 


In another study in Georgia, high-dose vitamin D using 250,000 IU or 500,000 IU was given to ventilated patients in the intensive care unit. The average vitamin D level was 21 ng/ml, and resulted in a reduction in hospital length of stay from 36 days to 25 days in patients given 250,000 IU vitamin D. In the 500,000 IU group, the hospital stay was reduced to 18 days. Vitamin D was also shown to significantly increase concentration of hemoglobin, improving the body’s ability to efficiently transport oxygen. 


For individuals at risk of influenza or acute respiratory tract infections, it is recommended to consider supplementing with 10,000 IU/d of vitamin D daily for several weeks to increase vitamin D levels, and then decrease to 5000 IU per day. It is also recommended to obtain a vitamin D level of 40–60 ng/ml. In patients with an active infection, slightly higher doses may be necessary.  


The benefits of vitamin D are widely known. Vitamin D helps to minimize the risk of respiratory infections. Vitamin D also increases cellular immunity by reducing the cytokine storm triggered by the innate immune system. It helps to support a healthy inflammatory response by increasing T regulatory cells. Supplementing with vitamin D is a cost-effective intervention that can help minimize the risk of respiratory tract and viral infections and can prevent a large bill for future medical costs. It is crucial to use a D vitamin that includes vitamin K for absorption. It is also important to note that there is no toxicity of vitamin K.. Furthermore, magnesium helps to activate vitamin D, so magnesium supplementation should also be considered. D3 Ultra with K is available online and in the office.

Source: Grant WB, Lahore H, et al. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients 2020 Apr 2;12(4).

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