Vitamin D and COVID-19
During this shelter-at-home time, we're all trying to be extra careful about what we're eating -- plenty of fruits and vegetables for strong immunity, plenty of water for good hydration and plenty of exercise.
We may want to add plenty of vitamin D to the list.
Known as the sunshine vitamin, our bodies can make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. However, dark winter days, abundant rain and even sunscreen make it more difficult in some areas.
Up to 50% of the world's population may not get enough sun, and 40% of U.S. residents are deficient in vitamin D. We simply spend too much time indoors, wear sunblock outside and eat a diet low in good sources of vitamin D.
Now there's another reason to think about vitamin D. There is plenty of research underway to see if vitamin D protects against COVID-19. Most of it is preliminary, but there's a handful of recent studies that claim vitamin D may play a role in both the risk of catching the disease and the severity of it. Stay tuned on that.
The empty shelves at grocery stores might lead you to believe the research is conclusive. At this point, there isn't proof that vitamin D status plays a role in the risk of death from COVID-19.
However, there's plenty of proof that vitamin D is important for a healthy diet. It helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, both of which are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. And there is much to gain by having better vitamin D status.
What can you eat to boost your vitamin D levels?
Here are six healthy foods that are high in vitamin D:
No. 1: Salmon, especially wild salmon. Wild salmon contains about 988 international units, or IUs, of vitamin D per serving, while farmed salmon contains 250 IUs, on average.