An effective vaccine against the coronavirus may be the only way to end the pandemic. Wouldn’t we all love a return to social normalcy and easier sleep? But until scientists deliver a vaccine, or until the virus runs its course and goes away, we need to use other measures. Among them, medical authorities should be sharing more information with the public about natural ways to build up immunity against viral infections.

Vitamin D is one of the crucial components of your immune system. Many people are deficient in it, but perhaps because there are no headlines about it, some people don’t seem to care. Now, a report in the Irish Medical Journal says it’s vital to have the right amount of vitamin D to achieve its full benefits. So, what’s the scientific evidence?

Dr. Declan Byrne, Clinical Senior Lecturer, St. James Hospital and School of Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin, says, “Our findings call for an immediate supplementation of all hospital inpatients, nursing home residents and older Irish adults with vitamin D.” He adds, “Our findings also suggest that vitamin D supplementation in the broader adult population and frontline workers will help to limit infections and flatten out the coronavirus curve.”

Indonesian researchers added fuel with a study analyzing 780 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus. Among those patients determined as vitamin D deficient, 98.8 percent died!

So, the concern that a deficiency of vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of developing coronavirus is gaining global attention. For instance, Professor Ian Brighthope, an Australian nutritional guru who pioneered the importance of vitamin supplements for decades, says, “We know that a safe and effective vaccine may be a long way off. So, it seems madness that in the meantime we do not use all the defenses, such as vitamin D, which is safe and cost-effective.” The cost per person would be from $10 to $20 dollars a year.

But how many people are lacking in vitamin D? A survey from Trinity College, Dublin, says one in eight people under 50 years of age are deficient in vitamin D. In North America, it’s estimated that two in five people are deficient in vitamin D particularly in the late winter months, which doubles their risk of flu. And according to the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., 81.1 percent of Black American adults are deficient in vitamin D.

Professor Adrian Martineau, an expert on immunity at Queen Mary University of London, says that “Vitamin D helps the body to fight viral respiratory infections. It boosts the ability of cells to kill viruses and at the same time dampens down harmful inflammation, which is one of the big problems of coronavirus.”

Several years ago, this column published an interesting finding. It reported that 80 percent of elderly mentally ill patients who had pneumonia and were treated with vitamin D survived. Those that did not get vitamin D died. This scientific proof should have rung a big bell.

So how can we get smart and boost our immunity? It’s a great tragedy that we continue to hear medical officers of health, infectious disease experts and TV anchors promote the use of face masks, hand-washing, and social distancing to decrease the risk of developing COVID-19, but none mention that vitamins D and C could help simmer down this pandemic.

Faced with an economic crisis unlike any ever faced before, a global prescription for a combination package of supplements would be prudent. It’s been suggested that 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, taken in three divided doses, has proven to increase immunity. Now it’s advisable to add 5,000 I.U. (international units) of vitamin D daily for two weeks to quickly establish an effective blood level of D. Then 3,000 IU daily. This is a great insurance package to fight viral infections.

As always, check with your own doctor.

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones, aka Ken Walker, is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Harvard Medical School. You can reach him online at his website, docgiff.com, or via email at info@ docgiff.com.

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