How to keep your immune system healthy as COVID-19 cases climb

By , KYW Newsradio

Vitamin D is essential to one’s health, and it’s become even more crucial during the coronavirus pandemic.

The best way to absorb the “sunshine vitamin,” as it’s called, is to step outside. Vitamin D is necessary for bones to absorb calcium. It also helps the immune system fight off infections and viruses — an important aspect as we continue to battle COVID-19.

A deficiency in vitamin D can make you feel lousy, according to Dr. Nicole Avena, a visiting professor of health psychology at Princeton University and assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine.

“Feelings of tiredness all the time, feeling like you can’t get motivated, they just feel fatigued and tired quite often,” she said. “Bone pain is also another one that can come up and again, it has to do with the fact that you’re not getting enough vitamin D in your diet. You won’t be able to absorb enough calcium in your bones.”

Avena said there aren’t a lot of foods that provide vitamin D, but fatty fish, like salmon, are best.

“There are foods that are fortified with vitamin D, so many breakfast cereals, milks, dairy products will contain vitamin D,” she said. “That’s been added by the food companies to help make sure people are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D in their diet.”

The amount of vitamin D needed depends on one’s age and ability to absorb it, but the general recommendation is 15 micrograms a day. ​

There hasn’t been enough research to determine if vitamin D prevents or even impacts contracting COVID-19, according to the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization. However, some recent studies have found that people with a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to people with normal levels of vitamin D.

Another study found higher rates of respiratory failure among COVID-19 patients with a vitamin D deficiency.

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