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Vitamin-D and COVID-19: time for the profession to take a stand – Jan 20, 2021

Advances in Integrative Medicine, (2020) doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aimed.2021.01.003
Professor Ian Brighthope. Director of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Melbourne, Australia
Professor Avni Sali AM. Director, National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Melbourne, Australia Associate Professor Karin Ried, Director of Research, National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Melbourne, Australia

The role of Vitamin-D,building immunity to viruses and respiratory illnesses is widely accepted. When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged earlier this year, it was too soon to show definitively that the vitamin would have a、sei'l impact, although experts in nutritional medicine expected it would. Nearly a year into the pandemic, however, we have dozens of research papers from quality institutions around the world - including from the US, Spain, Israel and the UK. These demonstrate that optimal blood levels of 90-130nmol/L not only enhance immunity to COVID-19 but also reduce the severity of outcomes should infection occur. Some jurisdictions are already encouraging and supporting supplementation, with the UK the most recent to announce plans to supply Vitamin-D supplements to vulnerable residents to enhance COVID-19 defences. Australia should do the same - notwithstanding our current low case numbers, a resurgence of a virus can occur quickly, and we have a window of opportunity to prepare our population for that.
Unfortunately, our Government is yet to act, citing the need for “more evidence”.
Such a conservative approach, when the risks associated with appropriate Vitamin-D supplementation are negligible,

  • is foolish, dangerous and frustrating.

However, as a profession, we are in a position to influence even without the backing of Government policy. We must advocate and inform not just at the political level, but importantly at the patient level. The elderly and those with darker skin are at particular risk of Vitamin-D deficiency, while certain cohorts of our community, including those with comorbidities such as diabetes and obesity, are most vulnerable to the virus. We should be testing their Vitamin-D levels and ensuring they are at optimum levels to provide protection. Given an estimated 50% of Australians are deficient in Vitamin-D, most adults can benefit from a daily dose of 2,000-4,000 IU with no adverse risk, while some need substantially more. The medical professionals should do everything in their power to support the health of their patients.

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