Q. At a Zoom party last night, the topic of vitamin D came up. I take 5,000 IU a day, which keeps my vitamin D levels just where my internist wants them to be. Multivitamins like One A Day 50+ have 700 IU of vitamin D. My internist said that is not enough for me.
My friend said he thought low vitamin D levels make you more susceptible to COVID-19. Is that true?
A. Researchers at the University of Chicago investigated this question (JAMA Network Open, Sept. 3, 2020). They examined data on patients who were tested for COVID-19 at the hospital. Among them, a group of 489 patients had had their vitamin D levels measured last year before the pandemic began.
Nineteen percent of those who had levels characterized as deficient had positive COVID-19 tests compared with 12% of those with adequate vitamin D levels. Previous research indicated that vitamin D supplementation might reduce viral respiratory infections. Many of these are caused by coronaviruses other than SARS-CoV-2. The authors state: “These findings suggest that randomized clinical trials with varying doses of vitamin D may be warranted in populations with and without vitamin D deficiency to understand if vitamin D reduces the risk of COVID-19.”
You can learn more about testing for vitamin D levels as well as supplements in our eGuide to Vitamin D and Optimal Health. This online resource is located in the Health eGuides section of our website, www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q. I am an avid reader of your column. You recently wrote about price fixing by generic drug companies. I was appalled to read your statement about how the executives met to fix the prices: “Men met on golf courses or fancy restaurants. Women got together for girls’ night out.”
Is this suddenly 1960? How sexist of you! Please correct this language and take more care in the future.
A. We fully understand your outrage. We would never use such language, except this is what the attorneys general stated in their lawsuit against the companies (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 15, 2016).
The complaint refers to “Women in the Industry” meetings. It also describes “GNOs” or “Girls Night Out” as the opportunity in which female sales executives exchanged sensitive information with their competitors. As you note, such language is reminiscent of the 1960s. The behavior is unacceptable in any age.
Q. Will getting the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine as an adult help protect me from COVID-19? Are there any reasons not to get this shot? I had mumps and German measles as a youngster. I am now 70 years young.
A. People like you, who are over 65, are at greater risk of serious complications from the coronavirus. We understand your desire for protection.
There is a hypothesis that the MMR vaccine might help reduce the chance that young children would get seriously ill from COVID-19 (Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, June 5, 2020). Because the idea of boosting innate immunity is plausible, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are coordinating an international placebo-controlled trial. They are recruiting health care workers as volunteers to test whether the MMR vaccine can protect against COVID-19 or reduce its severity. Until there are data, however, we would not recommend that you get an MMR shot to prevent COVID-19.
(In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.)