COVID 19, the corona virus, has affected our lives and our economy. Many of us are wondering just what to do to prevent infection from this. There are many options besides the usual social distancing, washing hands, and sanitizations that have been recommended. I have discussed these in another blog article. Another action includes ensuring adequate levels of Vitamin D in your body. This action may be especially important for certain ethnic groups such as black African American people.
A recent study concluded that Vitamin D is particularly important for potential prevention of COVID 19 and it may reduce the severity of the illness. This article showed that those with low levels of Vitamin D are 19 times more likely to have the bad severe critical progression of COVID-19 and a poorer end result than those with high levels of Vitamin D.
The researchers combined data from three hospitals in Asia. Their results explain part of the disparity in ethnic groups that we see regarding the severity of the illness. Many people will acquire this viral infection, it is almost inevitable for any of us. For most the symptoms are mild, like a cold or mild flu. However, in a small percentage the symptoms can become very severe and go all the way to death.
However, there are things that you can do in addition to the social distancing that can help. If you have symptoms suggestive of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) hydroxychloroquine taken early in the disease process appears to wor to decrease the severity of COVI-19. Now, this recent study on Vitamin D provides another action you can do to decrease the severity: make sure your Vitamin D levels are high. I have been an advocate on making sure Vitamin D levels are high, as most of my patients who see me for age-management can attest.
Recent analysis of the data regarding severity of COVID-19 has shown there is a disparity in severity depending on your ethnicity: more in black African Americans than in whites. Other studies have shown similar results. The reasons for this are many and include an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and poor nutrition in this group. These are statistics know in the medical literature.
Another common problem among Black African Americans is a low level of Vitamin D in most of them. This problem is most likely due to the darker skin preventing UV absorption of light through the skin with resultant decrease in production of Vitamin D in the blood. Most likely this low vitamin D level contributes to the higher severity of COVID 19 seen in the black population.
In a recent study conducted by the Kaiser Foundation, data was analyzed from 33 states, depict a distressing reality – blacks are dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than whites. In Wisconsin, which has a black population of only 6%, black people have accounted for 39% of fatalities and 25% of infections. In Kansas, which also has a black population of 6%, the data shows that black people have accounted for 33% of deaths and 17% of total cases.
The study authors state that “Our analysis of these data finds that they continue to paint a sobering picture of how the virus is disproportionately affecting communities of color,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The fact that Vitamin D levels are very low in blacks contributes to understanding why this is true.
In addition, these two studies also suggests that all persons with low levels of vitamin D, but particularly those with dark colored skin, should make sure that they take supplements of vitamin D to boost their Vitamin D levels to higher levels. Other actions would be weight-loss if overweight, which will also decrease diabetes incidence. Getting out of the range of obesity is a great option for preventing multiple other potential medical problems caused from these situations.
Low levels of Vitamin D have recently been associated with over 19 times increased risk of having the severe form of COVID 19. Being overweight and having diabetes also increases these risks. These problems are common in the black African American race but are problems that can be reduced by taking extra Vitamin D and losing weight. TrueMD has options for anyone who is interested in attaining these goals.
 Yancy CW. COVID-19 and African Americans. JAMA. Published online April 15, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.6548