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Justin Buckthorp

Justin Buckthorp is Founder and CEO of 360 Health & Performance International. He has 20 years of experience healthcare, elite sport and performance coaching, and is passionate about helping others unlock their potential.

In recent months, a significant amount of research has been published on risk factors, medical treatments, and lifestyle medicine tools to help in the management of SARS-CoV-2. 

There is a matrix of solutions in this respect, and one of those solutions to mitigate risk and effect is nutrition. A new study from August 2020 looked at the potential role of Vitamin D in the treatment of patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

Entitled “Effect of calcifediol treatment and best available therapy versus best available therapy on intensive care unit admission and mortality among patients hospitalized for COVID-19: A pilot randomized clinical study”, this paper is worthy of mention.

Vitamin D is an inexpensive supplement with few contraindications at the appropriate dose, and with winter coming, the results have important implications in protecting our health.

Design Set-Up

There were 76 participants in the trial; all hospitalised with COVID-19. The average age of patients was 53, and at the start of the study, there were no significant differences in the number of subjects with at least one risk health factor.


Of the 50 patients treated with Vitamin D, only one required admission to the ICU (2%), while of 26 untreated patients, 13 required admission (50%).

Of the patients treated with Vitamin D, none died, and all were discharged, without complications. Of the 13 patients admitted to the ICU who were not given Vitamin D, two died.


This trial into the therapeutic effect of Vitamin D is the first study of its kind. More well-controlled RCTs are currently taking place, and they are needed to add confidence to the data. But the results of this study are very encouraging.

Mechanisms of Success

From a biological perspective, why might Vitamin D help patients recover from COVID-19?

Research suggests the Vitamin D works through multiple mechanisms. These include:

1) Decreasing the cytokine and chemokine storm 

2) Regulating the renin-angiotensin system 

3) Maintaining the integrity of the epithelial barrier in the lungs

4) Stimulating the repair of the epithelial barrier in the lungs

5) Modulating neutrophil (immune) activity 

The image above provides a visualisation of these potential mechanisms. As the study concluded,

“Coronavirus infection is a serious health problem awaiting an effective vaccine and/or antiviral treatment. The major complication of SARS-Covid-19 pneumonitis is ARDs (Acute Respiratory Distress syndrome) mediated by a variety of mechanisms that may be aggravated by vitamin D deficiency and tapered down by activation of the vitamin D receptor.

We would add that even in the presence of a vaccine, the virus is endemic and not all parts of the population are going to receive or take up the opportunity of a vaccine. As such, it is important to get ahead of the curve and find ways to protect our health ahead of time. Vitamin D status is one of the multiple avenues to help optimise immune resilience.

As we approach winter, ensure you optimise vitamin D for yourself and your employees.

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