Vitamin D3 Deficiency – Post COVID
In the spring of 2020, many of us shifted to working at home. This brought challenges, rewards and many unintended consequences. A lack of regular exercise and sunshine lead to weight gain and decreased Vitamin D3 levels. If you have been dragging through the past few months and need help with a diagnosis D3 may be the culprit.
Vitamin D3 is found in fatty fish, eggs, fortified foods and supplements. It is important to have your levels checked because a deficiency can lead to health problems such as osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Our body converts Vitamin D3 from the sun or food into a hormone that helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from our gut. These minerals are important for strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is also thought to play a role in reducing inflammation, improving moods and preventing autoimmune diseases.
There are several steps to convert D3 starting with a substrate (precursor to D) from the food we eat or our skin. This is converted into an intermediate then enzyme-mediated to form 25-hydroxyvitamin D, which is the most accurate test of Vitamin D status. The liver interacts with several other enzymes and cofactors converting it into its active hormone. From here your body can use Vitamin D3 to do its work.
People who live at higher elevations have less D3 in the skin due to less intense UV light. The further you live from the equator, the lower your D levels will be year-round. Older people tend to have reduced ability to synthesize vitamin D precursor into Vitamin D and have a reduction in their kidney function converting it into its active form.
Vitamin D3 and COVID
Vitamin D is important for your immune system. In a recent cross-sectional study done in Italy, there was an association between low Vitamin D levels and the severity of COVID symptoms. This study did not prove cause and effect but it has suggested that patients with severe COVID disease have lower baseline Vitamin D levels than those who have milder disease.
Further research is needed to understand the role of Vitamin D in COVID-19, but it is an important factor to consider when managing this disease. At this time, there is no evidence that suggests that high doses of Vitamin D will prevent or cure COVID-19.
Working indoors can cause Vitamin D3 to drop over time. It can take months for these levels to drop. A normal D3 level is 30-100 ng/ml. However, you should aim for 55-75 ng/ml for optimal health. Patients can supplement too much D3 and become toxic, so it is important to have your levels tested before taking supplements to avoid having too much Vitamin D in your body.
The signs and symptoms of low Vitamin D include; fatigue, muscle weakness, joint pain, low moods, poor concentration and a weakened immune system. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to speak with your health care provider about having your Vitamin D levels checked.
Tips to increase your Vitamin D levels:
– Spend time outside in the sun daily, if possible. The more skin you show, the better. Try going for a walk or run outside, have lunch on a park bench, take a break outdoors or sit by a window during work.
– Eat foods rich in vitamin D. Fatty fish, such as tuna and salmon, are high in Vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from egg yolks and fortified foods like juice or cereal.
– Take supplements. If you have a deficiency or have trouble getting enough food sources of Vitamin D, take a supplement
Vitamin D comes in oral and intramuscular supplementation. The dosing for oral supplementation is usually 2000 IU/day, with a maximum of 4000 IU/day. Weekly and monthly pills are also an option at 50,000IU. For intramuscular supplementation, the dose is 50,000IU 100,000IU every two to six weeks.
We often see patients who are diagnosed with Vitamin D3 deficiency, placed on supplementation, and never have levels rechecked. This leads to poor management and unchecked deficiency. Some patients do not absorb the supplements or may have poor gut health. For these patients, we recommend switching to IM injections once a month, depending on their levels.
If you are having Vitamin D3 checked it is a good idea to look at B12 and Folate at the same time. All three of these are blood draws that your provider can complete with results in 1-2 days.
– Get your levels checked. Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels if you have been feeling tired and out of balance recently or have some other health concerns.
Getting your Vitamin D3, B12 and other vitamin levels checked with Mobile Care is easy. We come to your home, or office for lab draws and comprehensive medical care. We also offer IM supplementation and complete micronutrient assay with 200 different items tested.
Book a free consult today with Dr. Jake.
– Vitamin D | Patient Education Materials | UPMC, Pittsburgh PA – upmc.com/patients-visitors/education/nutrition/pages/. Accessed 14 June 2020.
– Mayo Clinic Staff (2018). Vit