COVID-19: A Proactive Approach
By Dan Gleason
Coaches will tell you that the best defense is a great offense. With COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the disease it causes), people can be proactive and go on the offensive.
Mainstream medicine emphasizes defensive measures: wear a mask, avoid crowds, maintain social distance and wash hands frequently and thoroughly. All of these are important, of course, but a strong offense calls for taking additional measures to be strong and resistant to infection.
Stress management, sufficient sleep and regular exercise are all important factors in maintaining a robust immune system. Statistics show that many people who succumb to SARS-CoV-2 have diabetes or pre-diabetes. To work on this underlying risk factor, a low-carb diet and the elimination of foods and beverages high in simple sugars and carbs is essential. Monitoring blood glucose, HgbA1c, triglycerides, insulin and HDL will also inform how the diet is affecting the body. Numbers that are poor can be significantly improved through the proper diet.
As of early June, there were more than 20 studies in progress on the use of vitamin D related to COVID-19. In March, Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), proposed using vitamin D to combat the current pandemic. The CDC has long known that the majority of Americans are deficient in vitamin D.
Having a robust Vitamin D level likely reduces the risk of viral respiratory infections. It regulates the immune system’s physical barrier and maintains proper functioning of the epithelial cells that line the intestines and lungs. It also modulates the immune system, helping it rev up when there is danger and put on the brakes when it is over-reacting. Conversely, a low level of vitamin D increases gut permeability, allowing pathogens to sneak into the blood stream, causing an inflammatory response.
This graph shows the remarkable drop in death rate as vitamin D levels increase.
People can get tested to measure Vitamin D in the blood. The recommended blood level is between 40-60 ng/mL. Many functional medicine practitioners even suggest 60-100 ng/mL. To merely maintain adequate levels, infants need 1000, children need 2000 and adults need 4000 IU per day. You may need much more if you are low to begin with. Liquid drops are recommended at the Gleason Center as cost-effective and absorbable.
Dosages recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, which were based solely on vitamin D for bone health, not for immune system and viral infections, were created 10 years ago. The Institute found no studies showing adverse effects of up to 10,000 IU per day, but strangely it still set the maximum recommended daily intake at 4,000 IU.
Significant levels of vitamin D—up to 25,000 IU—can be produced by even brief full-body exposure to UVB radiation from the sun. However, there are several factors that can blunt this production.
The skin pigment melanin functions as a natural sunblock, so the darker one’s skin; the less D3 will be produced.
The older a person is, the less D3 is produced via skin exposure.
During winter months at latitudes greater than 28º, little or no UVB radiation reaches the surface of the earth. (Grand Rapids is at 43º North latitude)
There are other crucial factors. The greater a person’s body fat, especially belly fat, the lower their D3 level tends to be. And it’s important that vitamin D cofactors—vitamins and minerals that help absorption and activation of D3—are at sufficient levels. The most important cofactors include magnesium, zinc, vitamin K2, vitamin C and omega-3s. It is often necessary to supplement with these nutrients, as they are hard to get from diet alone.
Certainly, defense is important. Avoid contact with infected individuals. However, it may be even more important to go on the offense when it comes to fighting viruses and regulating the immune system.
A more in-depth discussion of vitamin D and COVID-19, along with sources and references, can be found at https://blogs.mercola.com/sites/vitalvotes/archive/2020/07/02/i-need-your-help.aspx
Dr. Dan Gleason is the owner of The Gleason Center located at 19084 North Fruitport Road in Spring Lake. For more info: go to TheGleasonCenter.com or call 616-846-5410. See ad page 15.