Vitamin D and the benefits it has for our immune system are now going mainstream. It has been known for quite some time that Vitamin D helps immune functions and is essential in fighting upper respiratory infections. Upper respiratory infections come from many different types of Coronaviruses including the common cold and the Flu. But confirming that vitamin D will help in combatting the coronavirus has gotten off to a slow start. Data has been released which confirms that individuals with vitamin D deficiency have a higher mortality rate.
It’s possible that many deaths could have been averted had this information had been shared liberally from the start. Most people living in northern latitudes are vitamin D deficient, and the darker your skin the more your skin filters the sun’s radiation and resulting in lower absorption of vitamin D. At midday you typically need 10-30 mins of sunlight exposure without sunscreen. The darker your skin the more time you need to spend in the sun to absorb the same amount of vitamin D. A study has revealed that 30 minutes of midday summer sun exposure in Oslo, Norway was equivalent to consuming 10,000–20,000 IU of vitamin D. We only need about 600 IU of Vitamin D per day. When it comes to Vitamin D absorption you can wear a hat and sunglasses and keep your face covered. But you want to keep as much of the rest of your skin exposed as possible.
One of the most disturbing headlines as of late is the higher frequency of which Black and Hispanic people are dying of the Coronavirus. It is well known that Black and Hispanic people are more deficient in vitamin D which may correlate in the higher statistical outcome in death rates due to the Coronavirus. As a Black male in America I have always noticed how Blacks and other minorities may avoid the sun to maintain a lighter skin tone, which came from centuries of racial trauma and mistreatment which in turn set having lighter skin as the beauty standard. But in the age of a deadly pandemic this mindset needs to be abolished and all shades of skin must step into the sun for our health and survival. We need Vitamin D like a plant that needs its Chlorophyll.
There has been enormous controversy as to why Black and Hispanic communities have been suffering disproportionately with SARS COVID19. Headlines have been plastered everywhere of Blacks and Hispanics dying at higher rates. Many reasons that have been alluded to are disproportionate access to medical care, having low wages or essential jobs where the likelihood of working in close quarters with other infected people increases. The news is all about sensationalism for the sake of selling headlines. At many times this could leave the reader with more questions than answers, and even cause more harm than good by sowing the seeds for racism and division.
So what is really behind the statistical truth that people with darker skin are turning up with higher rates of COVID19 deaths and hospitalizations? Dr. John Campbell gave a great video on “Vitamin D and Immunity, Lots of Evidence”. Dr. John Campbell brought light to the fact that 40% of people in northern latitudes are Vitamin D deficient with a greater emphasis on darker skin. Darker skin absorbs less vitamin D especially at northern latitudes where the sun is weaker. He observed that the Samilian communities in Scandinavia are also dying at higher rates compared to their lighter-skinned neighbors in the same communities. It is known that those who have lower amounts of Vitamin D have a harder time fighting off upper respiratory infections. Therefore people with darker skin should be taking a vitamin D supplement in Northern latitudes such as the United States and Europe. If you are of lighter skin and you do not get sunlight you still should be taking a Vitamin D supplement to ward off upper respiratory infection which will leave you better equipped to fight off COVID19. Though having lighter skin leaves you at an advantage at absorbing Vitamin D more effectively in Northern latitudes than those with darker skin, this does not excuse you from having a Vitamin D deficiency it just leaves you at a lower likelihood of having that affliction.
With that being said, I feel that Covid19 will not hit Africa as hard as it did in the Northern latitudes because sunlight there is focused and abundant where even the darkest skin will receive enough Vitamin D while blocking most harmful UVA and UVB radiation which will help in fighting off upper respiratory infections. I conclude this is another reason why Australia may also be doing so well with COVID19, (abundance of sunlight and high vitamin D absorption). The darker-skinned you are, the more you will need to take a supplement in northern latitudes seasonally and seek sunlight during the summer months.