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COVID 19 Latitude Mortality and Vitamin D

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/13/2024

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, some researchers are trying to determine if you’re at greater risk of mortality from COVID 19 based on where in the world you live - which may also have a connection with whether or not you’re vitamin D deficient.

In this article, I’ll describe:

I bet you never made the connection among vitamin D deficiency, the distance above the equator you live, and the risk of mortality from COVID 19.

Let me explain.


Living Farther North Of The Equator Can Increase Your Risk Of Death From COVID 19

the words covid 19 in red on a white background

This study shows a connection between COVID 19, mortality, vitamin D, and latitude (the distance from the equator). The concept of latitude correlating with risks of certain diseases isn’t new. In fact, researchers have known for years that a number of diseases correlate to where you live.

If you’re in the northern hemisphere, for instance, you have a higher risk of colo-rectal cancer, multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes, breast cancer, and celiac disease, which is a serious auto-immune condition where the consumption of gluten damages the small intestine..

If you live in the northern hemisphere, your risk of celiac disease is 5.4 times greater than if you don’t. The risk of developing celiac disease could have something to do with a vitamin D deficiency. If you have celiac, you have colon damage, which means you’re already unable to fully absorb vitamin D because of the damage. As well, if it’s winter, when you lack sunshine, you could end up being very deficient in vitamin D.

I’ll explain in a minute why vitamin D deficiency matters.


COVID 19 Sparked My Curiosity

I started getting curious about the connection among COVID 19, vitamin D, and latitude from a paper titled "Low population mortality from COVID 19 south of latitude 35 degrees north supports vitamin D as a factor determining severity.” If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I’m a strong advocate for vitamin D as a way to support your immune system.

Turns out there are a number of scientists studying the linkages among this new disease, how far north you live, and vitamin Dt, in part because they’re trying to discover if the coronavirus has a predictable seasonal spread, making it easier to target public health preventive measures in areas the virus is likely to appear, and perhaps be more deadly.

This paper, for example, refers to a study done in the US. The results are interesting:

“This figure tends to show an increasing mortality with increasing latitude. Furthermore, the cumulative summary case fatality rate was significantly greater for Northern states (> 40o latitude) as compared to Southern States (6.0% vs. 3.5%, P?<?.001). However, this association is imperfect, with some Northern States (i.e., Wyoming and South Dakota) having low mortality rates while Louisiana has a high rate. Additional factors, such as racial makeup, population density, adherence to social distancing, use of vitamin supplements, and access to quality medical care, etc., likely play an additional role in explaining these geographical variations”

Clearly, latitude isn’t a single reason for increased mortality, but the connection is legitimate.

But keep reading for a curious fact about some northern countries; the Nordic ones.

Nordic Countries Show A Different Mortality Rate

Interestingly, Nordic countries did not show a higher mortality rate. The reason may be because people in these countries consume a lot of fatty fish and take vitamin D supplements through the winter Next time you're at your health food store, check out the source for many of the vitamin D supplements, including cod liver oil. They come from Nordic countries.

Here’s where the link between coronavirus and vitamin D comes in.

a photo of a capsule of vitamin D being held up to the sky with the sun shining through it


The Connection Between Vitamin D And COVID 19

Vitamin D regulates and suppresses inflammatory cytokines - one of the conditions that can kill a patient with COVID 19. These patients have an out-of-control inflammatory condition called a cytokine storm (link).

Vitamin D doesn’t kill the virus; rather, as I mentioned, it suppresses the cytokines as well as respiratory macrophages which are involved in the inflammatory response.

By decreasing inflammation, you can also decrease what’s called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that develops with COVID 19 and can be fatal. People with severe COVID 19 often have low vitamin D levels, along with hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease - all pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of dying from COVID 19.

Vitamin D has an important role in supporting your immune system. I really don’t think mainstream medical professionals are emphasizing enough the importance of using vitamin D along with hydroxychloroquine (link). I know that some medical providers are combining hydroxychloroquine with zinc, which boosts its effectiveness

But I don’t see any evidence that they’re using vitamin D to help keep the inflammation in the respiratory system suppressed, which is an overlooked opportunity to help patients with COVID 19.

See how a vitamin D deficiency could be tied to where you live, contributing to a higher mortality rate from COVID 19?


What You Can Do To Support Your Health

We’re all more acutely aware of the need to protect ourselves. I’m not suggesting you need to move to a more southerly latitude, though!

One way you can protect yourself is to bulletproof your immune system. As well, I’m a passionate advocate of supporting your health through excellent nutrition from the Healthy KetoTM way of eating combined with intermittent fasting.

I urge you to take charge of your health, especially now while the coronavirus spreads around the globe. But also, you can protect yourself for the rest of your life. And isn’t that a goal worth pursuing?

 a group of healthy happy seniors

Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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