Vitamin D has gotten a lot of attention recently for its overall health benefits and many experts claim that enthusiasm isn’t misplaced. Harvard Health, in fact, reports there is evidence to suggest that vitamin D might help protect against becoming infected with and developing serious symptoms of COVID-19. The institute also states that people with low vitamin D levels may be more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections. So, is it time to finally suck it up and start taking our vitamins? WellWell recently spoke with Dr. Judson Somerville, author of The Optimal Dose: Restore Your Health With the Power of Vitamin D3, about Vitamin D’s numerous health benefits and whether it can really help battle COVID-19.
What was the inspiration behind the Optimal Dose?
Some years ago, I was bitten but a Veracruz spider. I pretty much fought the initial symptoms off, but I kept gaining weight and was sleeping terribly. It got pretty bad and I started to think I’d be dead soon if I didn’t do anything. Growing up, my mom was always super into vitamins and their benefits, so I started doing a bit of research and discovered a lot on how Vitamin D impacted so much—way more than just your bones. I started taking Vitamin D and it made a huge difference, but I found the dosage was crucial.
Vitamin D improved your sleep and weight loss?
Absolutely, it essentially saved my life.
How does Vitamin D improve sleep and help with weight loss? Is it all tied to its impact on the immune system?
Of course, it’s great for the immune system but it goes well beyond that. Vitamin D directly effects the brain. The gut-brain has gotten a lot of attention over the last few years. Scientists examining the relationship gut health and stomach microbes have on not only your brain but your entire body. Vitamin D has a huge impact on the bacteria that make up those microbes.
What are some practical changes people would notice from taking Vitamin D?
There are numerous everyday changes but one that jumps out is that Vitamin D can basically change your appetite. When you have too little Vitamin D, your body tends its winter (think less sun) and encourages you to eat more, to stock up. When you have an adequate amount of Vitamin D it not only prevents this but also can block the absorption of fats. There’s even early research on its ability to help combat food cravings, like sugar.
The Optimal Dose focuses specifically on Vitamin D3. What are the unique benefits of D3 as compared to Vitamin D1 or D2?
Well, for starters Vitamin D1 was actually a mistake. It was a botched combination of Vitamin D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 is made by mushrooms and plants but it’s not as well absorbed. And your teeth don’t handle it as well. Vitamin D3 mainly comes from animal sources such as fish oil, fatty fish, liver, and egg yolks. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is the important one because it simply carries more benefits.
It has been floated by some experts that Vitamin D could help prevent contracting COVID-19 and limit its symptoms. Do you agree with this and what role does Vitamin D play in fending off disease and infection?
Oh, absolutely. Look, it’s obviously by no means a cure or absolute deterrent but Vitamin D has a massive impact on the immune system. Something I’ve noted that the vast majority of my patients, after they started taking the optimal dose of Vitamin D, never got the flu again. For coronavirus specifically, it’s worth noting that without Vitamin D the body cannot produce these proteins called defensins and those kill encapsulated organisms of which the virus is an encapsulated bacterium. Vitamin D is crucial in fending off disease and infection, that’s no different for COVID-19.
Is that how we should look at Vitamin D3’s relation to our overall toward health? While not all encompassing, still crucial and immensely healthful?
Yeah, I think so. Obviously, it takes more than Vitamin D3 alone to fully restore your health, but it is key. There is no one answer but The Optimal Dose is a great start.
About Dr. Judson Somerville,
Dr. Judson Somerville is a decorated anesthesiologist and opened the Pain Management Clinic of Laredo, Texas. The Optimal Dose is his first book.
Learn More at www.judsonsomerville.com