Nutrition Bytes: October 2021

Two New Studies Show Boosting Vitamin D Levels Leads to Better Outcomes in COVID-19

COVID-19 is known to make a real mess of the immune system, suppressing some parts and over-activating others. This is known as immune dysregulation. Meanwhile, vitamin D is known as an immunomodulator, i.e., it’s capable of balancing the immune system by downregulating overactive immune responses and upregulating underactive immune responses. This is why a 2021 study investigated the impact of oral supplementation with high-dose vitamin D (60,000 IUs) daily on balancing immune markers in patients with “mild to moderate” COVID-19 and low vitamin D levels.

The subjects were randomized to receive either a high dose of vitamin D for eight to 10 days or a placebo. Results showed that vitamin D treatment significantly balanced many markers of the dysregulated immune response, including a “highly significant reduction” of inflammatory markers. The authors concluded that this high-dose vitamin D therapy can be safely added to the existing treatment protocols of COVID-19 patients for improved outcomes. Moreover, the above study shows that correcting insufficient vitamin D levels is crucial to maintaining immune competence in the age of COVID-19.

Another 2021 study confirms this conclusion by showing that having optimal vitamin D levels is associated with a decreased risk of mortality from COVID-19 in elderly patients and patients without obesity. This study was performed on COVID-19 patients 18 years and older hospitalized at Boston University Medical Center and compared serum vitamin D levels with COVID-19 outcomes. Results showed that in patients over 65 years, vitamin D sufficiency (≥30ng/mL) was significantly associated with decreased odds of death, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and severe sepsis and/or septic shock. Additionally, among patients with a non-obese BMI (<30 kg/m2) vitamin D sufficiency was significantly associated with a decreased risk of death.

Don’t know your vitamin D levels?  Now is the time to get them checked. Unable to get them checked anytime soon? Supplementing with vitamin D has been shown to be a safe, affordable, and effective way to support optimal vitamin D levels.


Nutrition Bytes: October 2021

Artificial Colors and Hyperactivity in Children

A recent report from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment found strong evidence that seven different artificial colors commonly used in food can cause or exacerbate behavioral problems in susceptible children. The report included a review of research, including human and animal studies, that looked at the neurological effects of artificial colors and assessed their impact on different stages of development. The review specifically looked at the impact of artificial colors on hyperactivity, also known as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which has increased from 6 percent to 10 percent in the last 20 years.  

Artificial colors are found in a wide variety of foods, beverages, vitamins, and over-the-counter medications intended for children. The report highlighted numerous studies that found artificial colors negatively affect behavior by inhibiting the function of neurotransmitters, which are necessary for brain cell communication. Additionally, studies showed that artificial colors interfere with the stress signaling pathway and disrupt thyroid and estrogen receptors necessary for healthy brain function. The FDA last set acceptable exposure limits for artificial food coloring between the 1960s and 1980s.  

Artificial colors can easily be avoided by reading labels and avoiding ingredients with colors such as blue, green, red, and yellow (followed by the “#” symbol).  

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