COVID-19 and vitamin D: SoCal doctor explains the connection

What role does vitamin D play in the coronavirus pandemic? Studies out of China show those sickest for the longest duration of time in hospitals had the lowest levels of vitamin D.
Can vitamin D help protect you against the coronavirus? There's growing evidence that supports a connection between the two.

Dr. Anthony Cardillo, CEO Of Mend Urgent Care and ER physician, joined ABC7 via Skype to explain the latest research showing why vitamin D levels may be linked to a person's risk of COVID-19.

"Vitamin D is a phenomenal molecule in our bodies," said Cardillo. "Vitamin D does boost and modulate the immune system."

Cardillo said it's a pro-hormone that becomes a molecule and is able to go throughout our body. He points to studies out of China during the beginning of the pandemic for a potential connection between coronavirus and vitamin D.

"They started realizing that people that were the sickest in the hospital that had the longest duration of illness had the lowest levels of vitamin D. And these are retrospective observational studies that were done looking at the population in China that have gotten infected," said Cardillo.

He said it may also mean that sick people in general have low vitamin D levels, but nevertheless it's an important piece of information to keep in mind.

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"We probably should be supplementing with to decrease our risk overall," said Cardillo.

So, how do we boost our vitamin D level?

"The first is sunshine. Being out and about in the sun will definitely cause your skin to synthesize vitamin D," said Cardillo. "Sunshine is the best way to get vitamin D levels elevated."

He suggested going into your backyard or taking a walk down the street, but always practicing physical distancing.

Cardillo said you can also supplement by ingesting vitamin D with your meals, such as with fortified milks and cereals, as well as fatty fishes.

A supplementation of 1,000-2,000 i.u. of vitamin D is good, but Cardillo warns people to only intake the recommend daily allowance because it is possible to overdose on vitamin D.

As for resuming doctor appointments, either in person or through telemedicine, some people are concerned about going to a lab to get tested.

"You want to be going to a lab that is being very mindful about how they are organizing their lab, meaning that they have restrictions in place about how many people can be in the lab at the same time. They have protocols in place with cleaning and making sure the lab is sanitized properly," said Cardillo.

Cardillo said he doesn't think people should be fearful of going to the doctor or labs because medical establishments are on top of ensuring safety. He said that not getting your blood drawn is more dangerous than going into a lab.
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