Updated: CRN urges public health establishments to issue guidance on vitamin D supplement benefits

House Resolution aims to recognize vitamin D's benefits for COVID-19

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Helin Loik-Tomson / Getty Images
© Helin Loik-Tomson / Getty Images

Related tags Vitamin d COVID-19 cholecalciferol Immune health Dietary supplements

US Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI) has introduced a House Resolution to recognize the significant role vitamin D may play in the fight against COVID-19.

Citing an article on NutraIngredients​, a press release from Grothman’s office noted that in December, 120 international health, science and medical experts sent an open letter to world governments stating that there is clear evidence that vitamin D reduces COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Grothman, who is serving his fourth term representing Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District, also pointed to a host of studies from Northwestern University​, University of Chicago​, and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland​, that reported strong correlations between vitamin D deficiencies and negative COVID-19 patient outcomes, including severe symptoms, hospital stays, ICU admittance, and overall mortality rate.

Dr Anthony Fauci​ – America’s leading infectious disease expert – has also endorsed taking vitamin D supplements for immune system health and function.

Calls for the CDC, FDA, and NIH to study the connection between vitamin D status and COVID-19

“During the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, the world was in need of a treatment for this virus while we awaited a safe, effective vaccine,”​ stated Grothman in the release​. “While we now have vaccines to prevent COVID-19, not everyone has access to them yet, there are two existing COVID variants we know of, and people are still dying from the illness every day.

“We have been told to listen to the science regarding COVID-19 since its inception. Now, 120 doctors from several of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions concur that there is overwhelming evidence that vitamin D can be effective in decreasing the severity of COVID-19, but our government’s top public health agencies still have not pursued this credible lead.

“The unwillingness of these agencies to investigate this lead has undoubtedly cost many lives. I once again call on the CDC, FDA, and NIH to study the connection between vitamin D deficiencies and COVID-19 and let the public know how this could help them in our fight against the virus, just as they have with other prevention methods during the pandemic.

“If passed, my resolution will unite the voice of the House of Representatives in the search for additional ways to limit the negative effects of COVID-19 and hopefully encourage our public health establishment to issue much-needed guidance as to truly how effective vitamin D can be in preventing serious symptoms, complications, or death from the coronavirus.”

NPA: “The complications that arise from not having optimal vitamin D status are too many to list”

Commenting on Rep Grothman resolution, Dr Daniel Fabricant, President and CEO of the Natural Products Association (NPA), told NutraIngredients-USA: “The resolution goes hand in hand with our efforts to expand access in this time of need, whether through HSA expansion, SNAP or WIC expansion, tax holidays for consumer health products in states, we are a critical part of how the country is staying healthy right now. The complications that arise from not having optimal vitamin D status are too many to list so Rep Grothman getting the word out is a tremendous step in the right direction.”

CRN: "Our members have long recognized the importance of vitamin D supplementation"

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), said that it establisted a Vitamin D Study Task Force in September 2020 to develop and evaluate scientific content for a forthcoming consumer education program. The initiative will feature consumer-friendly content, such as research summaries, podcasts, and articles to provide more education on the topic of vitamin D and COVID-19.

“CRN commends Congressman Grothman for introducing a proposal before Congress that will focus public attention and promote consumer awareness on how vitamin D can help limit the negative effects of COVID-19,”​ said Julia Gustafson, vice president, government relations, CRN. “Our members have long recognized the importance of vitamin D supplementation, as this essential nutrient is critical to overall health at all life stages. CRN joins Congressman Grothman in urging public health establishments to issue guidance about the benefits of vitamin D supplementation and the role it may play in reducing the risk of serious COVID-19 symptoms and complications.”

The sunshine vitamin

Vitamin D © Olga Akinina Getty Images
© Olga Akinina / Getty Images

Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors - D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol. Both D3 and D2 precursors are transformed in the liver and kidneys into 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active 'storage' form, and the active form 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D).

While our bodies do manufacture vitamin D on exposure to sunshine, the levels in some northern countries are so weak during the winter months that our body makes no vitamin D at all, meaning that dietary supplements and fortified foods are seen by many as the best way to boost intakes of vitamin D.

To achieve a 25(OH)D blood levels of at least 30 ng/mL, the Endocrine Society Guidelines recommends infants, children and adults receive 400-1000 IUs, 600-1000 IUs and 1000-1500 IUs of vitamin D daily respectively.

The links between vitamin D status and COVID-19 emerged early in the pandemic. In September, scientists from Boston University​ reported that, compared to people with sufficient levels of vitamin D (blood level 25-hydroxyvitamin D of at least 30 ng/mL), people with a vitamin D deficiency (blood level 25-hydroxyvitamin D less than 20 ng/mL) have a 54% higher SARS-CoV-2 positivity rate.

Some of the most notable discussions around the potential link between vitamin D status and COVID-19 have been taking place in the UK, with the topic being discussed in the House of Commons and UK PM Boris Johnson indicating that his government would be looking into the issue​.

However, in December a report​ from the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), Public Health England (PHE) and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) denied there is enough evidence to support increasing vitamin D intake for COVID-19 specifically.

Martin Hewison, Professor of Molecular Endocrinology at Birmingham University and one of the world’s leading authorities on Vitamin D, called the SACN and NICE reports “disappointing”​.


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