Health experts looking into effects of vitamin D in fight against COVID-19

Posted at 12:30 PM, Sep 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-19 12:30:37-04

CLEVELAND — We all heard it growing up —you need vitamin D for strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Well there’s a new focus on the vitamin, its possible effects on the coronavirus and what that means for folks in Northeast Ohio.

Some health experts are encouraging Northeast Ohioans to boost their vitamin D levels.

Dr. Claudia Hoyen, the director of infection control at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, said oftentimes people in northern climates, where there isn't always a lot of sunshine, can become deficient in vitamin D.

It's not only essential for your bones, teeth, and muscles, it also plays a huge role in a strong immune system which is why health experts are taking a closer look at how it could possibly help in the fight against COVID-19.

The National Institutes of Health said there is not enough evidence to recommend using vitamin D to prevent or treat COVID-19, but it also says there’s not enough evidence to recommend against it, either.

“It can help that innate immune response that people have to have a virus or bacteria. So those cells that go out right away and kind of attack things and try to keep things in order,” Hoyen said.

Hoyen said vitamin D can also help form antibodies and is very important when it comes to regulating the immune system. She said a lot of COVID-19 patients develop hyper-inflammatory responses to the virus which can lead to some of the more severe symptoms.

So while she said nothing is conclusive yet, vitamin D can help balance the immune system’s response. She said everyone should strive to get their levels as close to normal as possible.

“Going into the winter, it might be a good idea for all of us living in Cleveland to talk with our doctors, maybe be sure we have our vitamin D checked or work with our physicians and our health care team to be sure that if they think we need supplements, that that's something that we start,” Hoyen said.

In addition to supplements, Hoyen suggests getting out for walks even in the winter to soak up some sun and eating fruits, vegetables, dairy products and other foods high in vitamin D to boost those levels.

Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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