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Optimal Vitamin D Levels Potentially Protective in COVID-19

sunbathing for vitamin d

Vitamin D deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency found in the developed world. This is partially explained by the fact we only get some of our vitamin D dietarily, and much of it from the sun. As a modern society, we live most of our waking hours indoors and thus may not absorb enough UV light to produce adequate vitamin D. Additionally, living in a northern climate (in the Northern Hemisphere), increased use of sunblock, and darkly pigment skin contribute to poor skin absorption.

Since the pandemic outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, there have been significantly different mortality rates from one country to another and even significant variance in mortality rates from one region of the country to the next. In parts of Italy, the mortality rate was near 10%. Some thought perhaps the mortality rate was higher than China due to an aging population or high tobacco consumption, or yet unknown genetic predisposition, but it was largely unexplained. Now, researchers have found high rates of vitamin D deficiency in the region. Does this finding explain the discrepant mortality rate in New York of approximately 6%, a more northern climate, compared to North Texas, approximately 2%?

See article and reference of new research demonstrating association of low levels with high COVID-19 mortality. Vitamin D is not a solution to the pandemic but may reduce risk of severe complications.


  • Sun exposure daily. To minimize harmful UV exposure, avoid direct sunlight in mid-day, or avoid exposure enough to cause sunburn.

  • If you do not know your vitamin D level, 2000-4000 IU Vitamin D3 daily for adults, and 800-1000 IU daily for children is a safe and a reasonable starting dose. Speak with your doctor about the right dose for you. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, recommend taking with a meal or fatty snack. It is not absorbed well if taken on empty stomach.

  • Consider having your vitamin D (25-OH) level checked. A level of 60-80 ng/ml is the goal for optimal health.  For those with cancer or recent history of malignancy, consider higher levels of 80-100 ng/ml as long as the calcium level is normal.

-Leann Silhan, MD