Countering COVID – A 5-part Review by Colin Rose October 2020 Part 4 Vitamin D, Lung Function and Flu
Colin Rose, the author of this series of articles, is a Senior Associate of the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM). He draws on recent updates from multiple sources including both the US and European Centres for Disease Prevention and Control. He researches and writes for Uni-Vite Healthcare Ltd.
In this new five-part series, the emphasis is both on how to improve your chances of a mild outcome and evidence-based ideas for prevention.
Countering COVID Part 4 – Vitamin D, Lung function and don’t risk flu too
TAKE VITAMIN D
Studies from Chicago, Germany and Israel confirm that low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of infection in the first place, and the risk of a serious outcome once infected.
A Spanish study showed that administering vitamin D to 50 patients on admission to hospital reduced the need for intensive care by 50% compared to a control group, and eliminated deaths.
The case for vitamin D supplementation, especially as we are entering the autumn and winter months, is supported by multiple recent sources – articles in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) of September 15th, The Lancet of August 3rd, and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of September 3rd.
NHS advice is to supplement with vitamin D in the winter
During the months from autumn to early spring, NHS advice is to supplement. Evidence from a meta-analysis indicates the optimum level is 2,000 IU (50 mcg) a day. Vitamin D3 is an inexpensive supplement.
There are plenty of vitamin D supplements available, but make sure it is vitamin D3 (natural) and it is 2,000 IU. Uni-Vite’s Vitamin D3 is on offer at 3 bottles of 120 capsules each for a total price of £9.90. Enough for 3 people for the whole winter. See Uni-Vite’s Vitamin D
GET THE FLU JAB IF YOU CAN
This will be the first year I will get the flu vaccine. It’s true that it isn’t perfect preventative protection, but if you have been vaccinated, your risk of serious complications from flu decrease significantly.
You certainly do not want to suffer COVID-19 and flu at the same time – which could be devastating for your immune system. Fighting off one infection reduces your ability to create the large number of antibodies needed to overcome the second virus.
It takes about two weeks for antibody response to fully develop to a vaccine, so get your flu shot by early October.
IMPROVE LUNG FUNCTION
COVID-19 begins as a respiratory infection, so it’s not surprising that some people suffer long term lung damage. Others can lose some lung capacity and suffer shortness of breath and fatigue for several months afterwards.
Nutrition and breathing exercises
A report by the Lung Institute cites Omega 3, vitamin D and a diet high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients as helping damp down lung flare-ups and improving COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) symptoms.
Important, too, are deep breathing exercises, because our normal breathing pattern only activates our lungs at about 50% of capacity – which is not enough to keep the oxygen flowing through the body at peak levels.
The following technique will not only help you recover lung health if you are infected by COVID-19, it will boost your health generally. Indeed, it is based on techniques that professional singers use to improve lung capacity.
The technique is taken from my new book called Delay Ageing. This is a relaxing, mind-calming exercise as well as helping to expand breathing capacity.
Mind Calming Deep Breathing
- Stop what you are doing, sit up straight, look upwards, and take in a long deep breath.
- You probably already feel a bit more relaxed and you almost certainly wanted to smile. The word ‘inspire’ comes from the Latin inspirare – breathe in.
- Now hold that straight-back position and put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- Start breathing in more deeply through your nose, so that you can feel your stomach push out on your hand with every breath in and go back when you breathe out.
- Continue to take slow, deep breaths, counting slowly to five. The breaths should push your stomach out first and then lift your chest, filling your lungs full – which our normal shallow breathing never does. See if you can extend the exhale until it is twice the length of the inhale.
- To release maximum tension, whisper or subvocalise the word “c-a-l-m” with every exhale. Or simply elongating the sound of the letter ‘M’ as you breathe out – a technique charmingly called ‘bumble bee’ breathing. As few as 8 rounds of these deep breaths will help you reduce stress and anxiety.
Read the introduction to Colin Rose’s new book Delay Ageing
- Vitamin D status and outcomes for hospitalised older patients with COVID-19; Vadir Baktash, et al; BMJ Journals
- Association of Vitamin D Status and Other Clinical Characteristics With COVID-19 Test Results; David O. Meltzer, MD, PhD; Thomas J. Best, PhD; Hui Zhang, PhD; JAMA 2020