The One Vitamin You Need to Take to Reduce Your Coronavirus Risk

Boosting your levels of vitamin D could prevent your death from coronavirus.

With the coronavirus pandemic still looming large throughout the United States and abroad, people are doing everything in their power to stay safe, from donning face masks outdoors to steering clear of friends and family members for the foreseeable future. However, there's one surprising factor that may influence how likely you are to become seriously ill from the coronavirus: your vitamin D levels.

According to a preprint of an April study led by researchers at Northwestern University, there's a "significant correlation with vitamin D deficiency" and coronavirus-related deaths. Perhaps scarier yet, a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that up to 8 percent of the U.S. population aged 1 and above are deficient in vitamin D. And that was at a time when we weren't spending the majority of our days inside, away from natural sunlight.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are easy to mistake for other health issues, with everything from depression to insomnia linked to the condition. The best way to know if you're actually deficient? Getting a blood test as part of your routine medical care.

For those who are significantly vitamin D deficient, there is good news, however: Increasing your vitamin D intake may make a major difference in terms of your overall mortality risk. Vadim Backman, PhD, who led the Northwestern study, says that increasing vitamin D to healthy levels could potentially cut "the mortality rate in half."

Luckily, increasing your vitamin D levels is easier than you might think. Salmon, eggs, and vitamin D-fortified products, like milk, cereals, and certain juices, are all good ways to boost your vitamin D levels. Better yet, while research suggests that vitamin D supplementation may be the most effective means of raising vitamin D levels in deficient individuals, a 2020 study published in Clinical Nutrition reveals that increased exposure to sunlight can also help.

Surprisingly enough, shedding a few pounds may help boost vitamin D levels, as well. According to a 2012 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, overweight and obese women who lost 15 percent of their total body weight nearly tripled the amount of vitamin D in their bloodstream.

That said, Backman cautions against prescribing vitamin D across the board, noting that further research is needed. So for the time being, keep washing your hands and wearing your mask before you start stocking up on supplements. And if you're worried about becoming seriously ill, make sure you're aware of these 10 Things That Increase Your Risk of Coronavirus Complications.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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