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Thursday, February 9, 2023
Want to Avoid the ICU for COVID? Just Take This One Little Pill
Whether or not to take a COVID vaccine and multiple boosters is a decision best left to individuals, who can assess their own risks and potential benefits better than any hamfisted government or corporate mandate ever could.
But a new study published last month by the National Institutes for Health suggests “a protective role” for a tiny yellow pill that costs almost nothing.
Before we go on, understand that I’m one of those crazy million-supplements-a-day people. We’ll get to that in a second, but first, let’s look at the science behind vitamin D and COVID.
You can buy a year’s worth of vitamin D supplements for about $12 on Amazon. January’s NIH meta-analysis shows that taking it “results in a decreased risk of death and ICU admission.”
It would be fair to note that a lot of people (including Yours Truly and actual doctors and scientists) have touted the benefits of vitamin D for a long time. But this is the first time I’m aware of that the NIH has published a study of this size regarding COVID and vitamin D’s “beneficial effect in preventing acute respiratory infections and reducing their complications.”
“Regarding ICU admission,” the study continues, “Figure 2 shows a strong association between vitamin D interventions and protective effect on ICU admission.”
In addition, “Figure 3 shows a significant protective effect of vitamin D administration on mortality.”
It isn’t just COVID, either. “Various studies conducted before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic showed that patients who received vitamin D supplements had a lower risk of acute respiratory infections and a shorter duration of symptoms.”
Did I mention you can buy a year’s worth of supplements for about 12 bucks? This is basically a no-brainer.
That’s the science. Now let me tell you about my personal experience with D and other supplements.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor and don’t even play one on TV. I’m relating my personal experiences and you might want to consult an actual doctor.
I’ve been blessed with generally good health. Other than suffering two rounds of Grave’s disease, I haven’t had any major health problems. They nuked my thyroid back in 2011 when I came out of remission for Grave’s the first time, so I take a daily dose of Synthroid. I also take a statin three times a week for cholesterol, but those are my only two prescription medications. At age 53, that’s pretty good.
Still, just like everyone else, I was always subject to the usual winter cold, sometimes a nasty one. And I’d get the flu every second or third winter even though I was religious about getting my flu shots every fall. They’re only about 60% effective “in a good year,” so I figure I’m right in with the odds.
But we’ve had a global pandemic going on for three years now, and I haven’t had a real cold or the flu — and I haven’t had a flu shot since the fall of 2020.
I got double-jabbed with the Pfizer vaccine in April and May of 2021. I did it because the reported risks were low, and because the vaccine was supposed to reduce the risk of transmission to my older in-laws. We now know that the risks are higher than originally reported and that the vaccines do little to reduce transmission. So I haven’t been boosted.
I’ve also never suffered any COVID symptoms. If I ever had it, it’s been 100% asymptomatic.
Twice, I thought the odds had caught up with me and that I was about to get knocked down for a few days with a nasty cold. Twice, my immune system rallied and that morning feeling of “man, I’m gonna be sick” was gone by dinnertime.
I mentioned I only take two prescription medications but I do take a lot of supplements.
My daily routine includes:
The basic A through E vitamins, plus K
Turmeric with curcumin
Resveratrol (half dose, because I drink a lot — a lot — of antioxidant-rich red wine)
Nicotinamide (I forgot what this one is supposed to do…)
Zinc plus copper
When I do feel something coming on, I take a massive dose of C (up to five grams) plus a double dose of zinc. But the only thing that’s changed in my supplement routine since I stopped catching colds or the flu three years ago is the daily addition of 1,000mg of L-lysine. It’s a massive horse pill, if that kind of thing bothers you, but my anecdotal experience is that it’s a real immune-system booster.
My tiny control group — my wife and two sons — don’t take lysine. They also catch the usual cold each year. So it isn’t like I’m a hermit who doesn’t get exposed to these bugs.
Lysine isn’t expensive, either; it’s about $8 for 100 days’ worth of pills.
So if you’d like to reduce your risk of hospitalization from COVID or any other respiratory infection, do what NIH says and take vitamin D. But I’ve found that lysine at least seems to reduce my risk of catching anything at all.