Vitamin D Dosage for COVID19 Preventative Assistance?
November 27, 2020 4:10 PM   Subscribe

There seems to be strong anecdotal evidence (layman's definition) that Vitamin D is helpful for prevention of COVID19, or at least can't hurt, especially given our seclusion. What I've not been able to determine is what dosage to take for it. If it is weight-dependent, I'm unfortunately a rather big guy (about 350). You are not a doctor (although any Mefite physician advice is definitely appreciated, and if so, I acknowledge you are not MY doctor).

Also, out of curiousity, is it the cholecalciferol (D3) or the ergocalciferol (D2), or both?
posted by metabaroque to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You might find this article helpful.

As stated in that link, I wouldn't start taking more than 4000 IU a day without consulting a doctor about it, just to be on the safe side.
posted by fight or flight at 4:15 PM on November 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

The evidence is actually stronger than anecdotal. This video discusses research evidence for vitamin D benefits, and in this study, the in-hospital administration of calcifediol, a vitamin D analog, significantly improved patient outcomes. Searching YouTube for Dr. John Campbell vitamin D will find several medical discussions of the topic in very layman-friendly terms.
posted by davcoo at 4:43 PM on November 27, 2020

My naturopath neighbor takes like 12,000 units daily. I wouldn’t worry about it.
posted by kerf at 4:51 PM on November 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

To answer your specific question, D3 is better as a supplement. Most people in North America are deficient in Vitamin D, so taking 2000IU a day to start would be totally fine and probably beneficial to your general health.
posted by bedhead at 5:01 PM on November 27, 2020

If you have decent medical coverage, it’s really a good idea to check your levels periodically. Too low and too high are both not good. This is one supplement that can reach toxic levels if you take too much. How much you need can also depend on your sun exposure.
posted by FencingGal at 5:17 PM on November 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

D3 is what you want to take. After he tested low, Mr. gudrun's doctor started him on 4000 IU a day. Mr. gudrun is a big guy, so the doctor wound up, after they did some further testing of Mr. gudrun's levels, upping the dose to 6000 IU a day for a while, and then dropping back to 4000 IU a day when his levels went up. If you don't get tested, you would probably be fine doing 4000 IU a day.
posted by gudrun at 6:02 PM on November 27, 2020

Vitamin D3, likely with K2 and magnesium:

Vitamin D3 and K2 and their potential contribution to reducing the COVID-19 mortality rate (Oct. 2020) has a linked weight table under "Dietary considerations." Given that vitamin D3 is an immunoregulating hormone and can be considered safe when supplementing it together with K2, Table 1 provides a rough guideline on how to raise vitamin D levels to desired values. Supplementation of magnesium (200–250 mg/day) should also be considered, as all enzymes that metabolize vitamin D seem to require magnesium.

Previously: Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data (BMJ, Feb. 2017) [As a brief article: Vitamin D protects against colds and flu, finds major global study.]
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:12 PM on November 27, 2020 [3 favorites]

I take 4000 IU in a single pill, based on much of the evidence cited above. This figure is quite a lot higher than various official guidelines- which were cautious about overdosing in the absence of research. Research which now shows it is safe. My understanding is that the body can generate 10000 IU worth easily when sitting in the sun for a few minutes. There is evidence that older people and those more overweight need higher doses.
posted by rongorongo at 2:35 AM on November 28, 2020

I just went to the pharmacy yesterday for advice about vitaminD, because I have to wear factor 50 sunscreen for a year after surgery.
She gave me some pills that combined 1520 IU vitamin D3 and calcium, and strongly advised me against going over the recommended dose of two tablets without medical advice. So now I'm trying this out for a while. I'm trying to not overburden my doctor during this time, and on the other hand, I have a lot of symptoms that fit with vitamin-D deficiency.
Also: eat fatty fish and liver if you can. Your body absorbs vitamins much better when they are part of a healthy diet.
posted by mumimor at 2:50 AM on November 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you aren't already aware, "naturopaths" aren't real doctors and in many cases have almost no meaningful medical training. Naturopathy isn't evidence-based medicine; it's a pseudoscience. You shouldn't take dosage advice from a naturopath, or worse, from someone else's reports of what a naturopath they know does.

Vitamin D toxicity is real, although you'd have to work at it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:44 PM on November 28, 2020 [8 favorites]

Vitamin D toxicity is real, although you'd have to work at it.
The relevant Wikipedia page on Vitamin D toxicity cites a U.S National Academy of Medicine paper from 2011, that suggests a safe upper dose of 4000 IU/day for children 9 and older and adults. Signs of overdose have been observed in those getting 77,000 IU/day or more - and acute overdose, around 600,000 I/U per day for several days. So yes - you would really have to work at it - for a prolonged basis.
posted by rongorongo at 3:29 AM on November 29, 2020

I read a rather interesting article recently about a man who made a vitamin D supplement. He managed to screw up and vastly increase his dosage, to the point at which it made him sick. He estimated that he took over 8,000,000 units a day for several weeks. The cure was to lay off it for three or four days.
Your body is very capable of getting rid of excess D, because the amount you make standing in the sun is not controlled by your body, it just happens. Some of it degrades as its created because your skin gets hot and D is very heat sensitive, but I assume there are other pathways.
A recent study out of - I believe Finland - suggested that the current levels are too low, and 9000 iu a day is a good start. A Canadian study a few years back started with a single injection of 60,000 iu. Their results were good.
The effects of too little vitamin D are well known and horrifying. The effect of too much seem to be trivial. The recommended dosage was set decades back based on hand-waving and what seemed 'reasonable.' It was obviously much too low. I could speculate on the lives lost to this blithe assumption, but it's a moot point by now.
posted by AugustusCrunch at 6:44 AM on November 29, 2020

This seems relevant: More than 2.5m people in England to get free vitamin D

For what it's worth: So I began to take the amount recommended by the pharmacist, and today I have all the symptoms of an overdose, splitting headache, nausea and constipation.
This is normal for me, I react badly to all vitamin and mineral supplements, even when I need them. But I'm putting it in here to remind folks that we are all different, and things might be complicated.
posted by mumimor at 2:50 PM on November 29, 2020

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