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Physical fitness is a general state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports or occupations. Physical fitness is generally achieved through correct nutrition, moderate-vigorous physical activity, exercise and rest. It is a set of attributes or characteristics seen in people and which relate to the ability to perform a given set of physical activities.

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01 December 2020

  • Step Up the Burn: How Many Calories Are Burned Walking?

    Whether you “walk on the wild side” like Lou Reed or “walk this way” like Steven Tyler, walking is a super easy way to get in a cardio workout and burn some calories. But how can you figure out just how many calories you burn walking?

    If you’re tracking your calories burned to help a weight loss or fitness journey, there are several factors that affect how much you burn like your weight, distance, and pace. 

    Guille Faingold/Stocksy

    So how many calories can you burn walking?

    The most common way to determine how many calories you burn while walking is to consider your weight and walking speed.

    For example, if you were walking on a flat surface at your average speed, the calories you burn from 30 minutes of walking could look like this:

    Weight2.0 mph (casual pace)3.0 mph (moderate pace)3.5 mph (brisk pace)4.0 mph (very brisk pace)
    130 lbs58 cal97 cal112 cal147 cal
    155 lbs70 cal116 cal133 cal175 cal
    180 lbs81 cal134 cal155 cal204 cal
    205 lbs92 cal153 cal176 cal232 cal

    Now if you’re walking uphill, your calories burned will increase. (Your legs and glutes will thank you later.)

    Compared to walking on flat ground, an estimateof a 30-minute walk at an incline could look like this:

    Weight3.5 mph on flat surface3.5 mph going uphill
    130 lbs112 cal177 cal
    155 lbs133 cal211 cal
    180 lbs155 cal245 cal
    205 lbs176 cal279 cal

    But, these are just estimates, and your number of calories burned is pretty unique to you.

    Calculate it: Your calories burned walking calculator

    A more in-depth calculation for calories burned also factors in your:

    • basal metabolic rate (BMR) — essentially your metabolism based on age, sex, height, and weight
    • exercise intensity (METs)
    • duration of your walk

    The equation would look like this: calories burned walking= BMR x METs/24 x hour

    Let’s do some math

    Using this equation calculator, a 30-year-old woman who weighs 130 pounds, is 5 feet 5 inches tall (BMR = 1,374), and walks for 60 minutes at 3.0 mph (3.5 METs) will burn 200 calories.

    A 30-year-old man who weighs 210 pounds, is 6 foot (BMR = 2,072), and walks for 60 minutes at 3.0 mph (3.5 METs) for 60 minutes will burn 302 calories.

    Go the distance: Calories burned walking 1 mile 

    It’s tricky to say exactly how many calories you’ll burn walking a mile without taking into account your weight, pace, and time it takes.

    But if you break down the average miles per hour you’re walking at a moderate pace, you can at least estimate your average calorie burn per mile.

    WeightCalories per mile
    130 lbs64 cal
    155 lbs77 cal
    180 lbs89 cal
    205 lbs102 cal

    Time it: Calories burned walking 1 hour 

    The American Council of Exercise estimates a 140-pound person would burn about 7.6 calories per minute walking. From that logic, this person would burn about 456 calories walking for an hour (but we don’t know the pace or incline).

    Your walking speed and your weight will really impact the calories you burn over time, so you’re guaranteed to burn more calories the more time you spend walking (bonus points if it’s uphill).

    Estimates that take into account your weight and speed would put your calories burned per hour closer to this:

    Walking speed130 lbs155 lbs180 lbs205 lbs
    2.0 mph (casual pace)117 cal140 cal163 cal185 cal
    3.0 mph (moderate pace)194 cal232 cal269 cal306 cal
    3.5 (brisk pace)224 cal267 cal310 cal353 cal
    3.5 uphill (hiking)354 cal421 cal489 cal557 cal

    Calories burned walking vs. running 

    Running will burn even more calories than walking. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention a 154-pound person would burn about 280 calories walking for an hour at a moderate pace, and 590 calories running at a pace of 5 miles per hour.

    Like walking pace, weight, and time is a major factor in how many calories are burned running.

    The American Council of Exercise found that on average, a 120-pound person burns about 11.4 calories per minute while running. So if that person runs a 10-minute mile, they will burn 114 calories.

    But if that person weighed 180 pounds, the calorie burn would increase to 17 calories a minute, making that runner burn 170 calories for that same 10-minute mile.

    How to burn more calories walking

    There are endless ways to add a little pep into your step to burn out those calories. Here are some tips to increase the burn:

    • Add an incline. A treadmill or an outside hill works.
    • Walk in intervals. Start out at a moderate pace then slowly increase your speed, alternating every 1 to 2 minutes. 
    • Try adding a heavy backpack or hand weights. This will rack up those calories, even doubling the burn, just as if you were hiking through Sedona.
    • Pick up the pace! Incorporating jogging into your walk will have those numbers jumping. Even if you jog for every other minute or mile, you’ll be pleased with the numbers.

    Bottom line

    Walking is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy and get your daily exercise. Whether you’re walking alone, with a friend, uphill or on a flat trail, you’re giving your body the energy it needs while burning calories.

    If you’re focused on losing weight, add more hills or inclines to your walk. You also might want to walk for a longer amount of time. If you want to challenge yourself once you’re a walking pro, add some sprints or jogging into your walk.

    Now grab those Yeezy’s and leggo.

  • Cisgender vs. Straight: It’s Not Always One and the Same

    If you aren’t familiar with the many terms used to describe members of LGBTQIA+ communities, they may seem like a big ol’ bowl of alphabet soup. But there’s a good reason for all those terms: People are unique, and varying gender identities and sexual orientations can make it hard to fit into a two-gender box.

    But what about other terms, like “cisgender,” that often (but not always) exist outside the LGBTQIA+ community? Are you automatically straight if you’re cisgender?

    Let us explain cisgender vs. straight.

    Illustration by Brittany England

    So, what does it mean to be cisgender?

    A cisgender, or “cis,” person identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth. So a cisgender person’s sex on their original birth certificate matches their current gender identity.

    You might also see terms like “assigned male at birth” (AMAB) or “assigned female at birth” (AFAB) used to describe someone’s birth gender.

    If a person’s gender identity doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth, they may identify as transgender or nonbinary.

    Are you always male or female at birth?

    In the United States, there’s a legal movement for a more inclusive approach to gender. Currently, 13 states allow you to change your birth certificate to say “male,” “female,” or the gender-neutral option “X.”

    What does it mean to be straight?

    Identifying as straight is pretty, er, straightforward. Having a sexual orientation of straight means that someone’s attraction, either sexual or romantic, is to a gender other than their own.

    This definition is deeply ingrained in societal norms. A straight relationship is typically between a person who identifies as a man and a person who identifies as a woman.

    What’s the difference between cisgender and straight?

    Cisgender” is a gender identity. Gender identity describes how a person identifies themself, such as man, woman, nonbinary, or another identity they prefer. So if someone who was assigned male at birth identifies as a man, he’d be a cisgender male.

    “Straight” is a sexual orientation, which describes one’s attraction to other people. Someone is straight if they identify as one gender and are attracted to the “opposite” gender.

    A straight relationship is typically seen as involving a cisgender male and a cisgender female. But people whose gender differs from the one they were assigned at birth can still be straight if they’re attracted to a different gender.

    What is gender, and how does it relate to sex?

    When Murray in “Clueless” refers to Dionne as “woman,” that’s her gender. But calling her “female,” well, that would be her sex. What’s the difference? It’s not a simple answer.

    Gender is typically influenced by society, not biology, and is responsible for the association of certain traits, language, behavior, and characteristics with being a man or a woman. But gender can be more complex and nuanced than the binary terms.

    A person’s gender is often conflated with their sex. Sex is traditionally designated by doctors based on a person’s genitalia at birth. But gender identity is a more expansive view that goes beyond your sex. For example, a trans man could have female genitalia but identify as a man, not a woman.

    Bottom line: Your sex (based on genitalia) doesn’t have to “match” your gender (how you identify). Your gender identity isn’t stuck in the construct of your sex.

    What about intersex?

    The term “intersex” refers to someone’s biological sex not fitting into the binary of male or female. But this term doesn’t dictate gender.

    When a person is born intersex, their genitalia, sex organs, hormones, or chromosomes have both female- and male-identifying characteristics. This means an intersex person can have both a uterus and testicles, but they could identify as a man, a woman, nonbinary, etc.

    This is also known as a person having a difference in sex development (DSD). It occurs naturally, although some characteristics don’t develop until later in life. Research suggests that about 1 in 100 people are born with DSDs.

    So, is a person either cisgender or transgender?

    As with most things related to gender, it’s not as simple as a person being either cisgender or transgender.

    To be either cisgender or transgender still relies on the gender binary of male or female as the framework. Have a penis and identify as a man? Cisgender. Assigned male at birth but identify as a woman? Transgender.

    Other gender identities or expressions that don’t always fit into the category of cisgender or transgender include:

    • Nonbinary. Some folks don’t identify as either a man or a woman, while others identify as both. “Nonbinary” is often used as an umbrella term for people whose gender identities exist outside the binary of man and woman.
    • Gender-fluid. A person can also identify as gender-fluid, which means their gender identity is not fixed — instead, they move between identities. One moment “man” fits, and another “woman” feels best.
    • Gender nonconforming. This means someone’s gender expression doesn’t match the gender they were assigned at birth. But people who identify as gender nonconforming may also identify as cisgender.

    These are just a few examples. There are more than 64 terms that can describe a person’s gender identity or expression.

    The deal with gender identify

    Gender identity is up to each individual to decide. And someone’s gender identity may not match their gender expression. For example, someone may identify as a woman, but their appearance may be masculine.

    Gay, straight, or something in between?

    Sexual orientation is a spectrum, which means someone can identify in a myriad of ways beyond straight and gay.

    Some (but not all) of the possible sexual orientations include:

    • Gay. Sexual and romantic attraction to people of the same gender.
    • Straight. Sexual and romantic attraction to people of a different gender.
    • Queer. Often used to encompass the fluidity of one’s sexual orientation as not straight. (You can also choose not to identify with any sexual orientation at all.)
    • Bisexual. Sexual attraction to people of the same gender and other genders.
    • Biromantic. Romantic attraction to people of the same gender and other genders.
    • Asexual. Experiencing little to no sexual attraction to anyone.
    • Aromantic. Experiencing little to no romantic attraction to any gender.

    The deal with sexual orientation

    Your sexual orientation can be unique to your sexual and romantic attractions. Some people view their sexual orientation as fluid, falling in a different place along the spectrum at any given moment. Others can experience romantic attraction to the same gender but sexual attraction to all genders.

    What does “cishet” mean?

    If you identify as cisgender and straight, you are considered cishet — this term is an abbreviation of “cisgender and heterosexual.”

    So, a person who is cishet identifies as the gender they were given at birth and is attracted to a different gender.

    So, are all cisgender people straight?

    Since “cisgender” is a gender identity and “straight” is a sexual orientation, one doesn’t determine the other.

    These are two separate and individual identities. Some cisgender people identify as gay, bisexual, queer, pansexual, fluid, or any number of other identities that makes them not straight.

    Are all transgender people not straight?

    You can be transgender and straight. There are people whose gender identity doesn’t match the one they were assigned at birth but who experience attraction only to those of a different gender.

    A poll from analytics company Gallup found that 66 percent of transgender people who were asked identified as straight.

    A transgender man who is attracted only to women would be straight.

    Why do we have all these dang labels?

    “Gay or straight” doesn’t cover all the ways people experience romantic love or sexual attraction. In the same vein, looking at gender as solely “man” or “woman” leaves out nonbinary, intersex, and other expansive gender identities.

    These terms exist so each individual can use the term that works best for them. If your favorite color were blue, you likely wouldn’t take kindly to someone telling you that your favorite color had to be yellow or red. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not one-size-fits-all.

    How do you know the right terms to use?

    Don’t assume everyone you meet is cisgender or straight. Someone could be gay, straight, or anything in between.

    If you’re unsure of someone’s gender identity, you can always ask, “What are you pronouns?” Just know that it’s never OK to reveal someone else’s sexual orientation or gender identity unless you have their permission.

    Common pronouns:

    • she/her
    • he/him
    • they/them (for one person)

    But some folks might not feel comfortable telling you, and that’s OK too. If you know a person’s identity, respect their pronouns. And if you don’t, try to use nonbinary language like “folks” or “they/them,” or just use their name.

    A way to share your pronouns when introducing yourself could be “My name is ______, and my pronouns are she/her.” You can also share your pronouns on your social media and other identifying places.

    The takeaway

    It’s not a question of cisgender vs. straight, because this combination is not mutually exclusive. “Cisgender” and “straight” represent two squares on the much larger quilt of possible identities.

    Each individual is the best possible expert on which gender identity and sexual orientation fit them. So before you assume, consult the expert.

  • DIY Decorative Wreaths: The Holiday Project You Can Do in Under an Hour
    Design by Mekhi Baldwin; Photography by Helena Atoakhill

    FreshCoat is an on-going series at Greatist that features easy, affordable DIY home projects, so you can add joy to your life by sprucing up your space.

    When we moved into our new home in January 2020, it needed a complete renovation. I’ve always wanted one of those beautifully styled homes you see on social media, but before I could start buying paint and furniture, I had to get the necessary stuff done: electrics, heating, plasterboard, insulation, etc.

    As I write this, the renovation still isn’t done. But in the meantime, I’ve satisfied my urge for beautifying and decorating by finding affordable and easy ways to make things myself. I love getting crafty, and whenever I see a beautiful piece of home décor, I start thinking about how I can recreate it.

    I recently started seeing these beautiful seasonal wreaths online, but I couldn’t justify buying one with a price tag between $100 to $175 apiece. I knew I’d inevitably want one for each season, and I wasn’t about to spend $400 to $700 on wreaths a year! 

    So, I started making them myself. I’ve discovered that these simple half-hoop wreaths are the perfect detail to make my home feel unique and loved. 

    My favorite way to make the wreaths is with eucalyptus because it’s easy to work with, lasts for years, and has the most amazing fragrance as it dries. But you can use all sorts of plants and trees. So far, I’ve used pampas, hydrangea blooms, and holly gathered from our garden.

    Call your local florist

    I buy my eucalyptus from my local florist. He’s so helpful and always ready to give advice about what flowers or plants could work well for me. If you’re able, I highly recommend chatting with yours.

    What you’ll need for the project

    One of the best parts of this project is how few supplies you need to pull it off. I use a 20-inch metal hoop, but you can change up the size depending on what look you’re going for.

    Click on the links below to be directed to Amazon.

    Total cost to make two wreathes: ~$75
    Total project time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

    How to do it

    Now comes the fun part! Below are step-by-step instructions for putting together your wreathe.

    1. Gather your supplies. 
    2. Lay your stems over the hoop to decide which placement will look the best. I like placing two stems with the tips of their leaves pointing up toward the top of the hoop and placing two stems opposite that with their tips facing the bottom of the hoop. Sometimes, I add a fifth stem in the middle to give the center a fuller look. 

    Note: Each stem will have a different number of leaves, so you’ll need to move them around, changing which stem goes where, until the placement looks even.

    1. Locate where the hoop joins ends and place that area so that the stems will cover it. I place mine in the middle on my left. 
    2. Move your stems to the side temporarily without rearranging the placement.
    3. Wrap the florist wire around the top of the hoop three or four times. The wrapped area is where the tips of your first stems will be.
    1. Place the stems back over the hoop.
    2. Gather the two upward-facing stems and the hoop so that you can hold them in place with one hand.
    3. Wrap the wire around the stems and hoop until you reach the 180-degree mark on the hoop. 
    4. Cut the wire using the wire cutters and wrap the remainder of the wire around the hoop so that it can’t be seen. 
    5. Turn the hoop 180 degrees so that you can hold the stems and hoop in place exactly as you did with the first side.
    6. Repeat what you did with the first stems.
    1. Use the shears to cut away any stems that are sticking out.
    2. Add more leafy stems to get the look you want. The stems I used were bushy already, so I didn’t need to add more stems to my wreathe.
    3. Tie some twine or string to the top of the hoop, and you’re ready to hang your wreathe!  

    I hope I’ve inspired you to give wreathe-making a go for yourself. I would love to see your creations. Tag me @atoakhill on Instagram, so I can see them!

  • Kcal vs. Calories: What’s the Diff?

    You probably know the deal with calories when you see them labeled on a snack, but WTF are kilocalories?

    To recap, calories are how we measure the amount of energy in food and drinks and the amount of energy we burn during a sweat session. But not every dot on the map measures energy the same way. Instead, some places use kilocalories (kcal) and kilojoules (kJ) to measure energy in food.

    This can get a bit confusing, so let’s clear things up about kcals vs. calories.

    Design by Viviana Quevedo; Photograph by Alxpin/Getty Images

    Science time: What’s the difference between kcal and calories? 

    If we’re talkin’ cals, these can be “small” or “large” calories. A capital “C” in “calories” signals a large calorie, while a lowercase “c” means it’s small.

    A small calorie is roughly the total energy needed to bump up the temperature of 1 gram (0.035 ounces) of water by 1°C (1.8°F).

    On the flip side, a large calorie approximates the total energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of water by 1°C (1.8°F). 

    One large calorie equals 1,000 small calories (since 1 kilogram equals 1,000 grams).

    So, how many calories are in a kilocalorie? 

    To make small and large calories a little less confusing, it’s assumed that the prefix “kilo” in the term “kilocalorie” was intended to point to the large calorie. So, a kilocalorie = a large calorie.

    Unfortch, the small calorie term is hardly ever used, except in chemistry and physics research. For us outside the lab, a small calorie is a pretty useless measurement.

    Wait… so what is a regular calorie, then? The terms “calories” — without the capitalization distinction — and “kcals” are tossed around interchangeably to describe the same energy amount for both food and fitness purposes.

    So basically, “calories” and “kilocalories” usually mean the same dang thing.

    Other calorie measurements

    Energy in food can also be measured in kilojoules (kJ). One calorie (kcal) equals 4.18 kJ or 4,184 joules (J).

    If you’re looking to convert calories to kJ, multiply the number of calories by 4.18. To convert kJ to calories, divide the number of kJ by 4.18.

    For example: A banana (118 grams) has about 105 calories (kcal) or 439 kJ.

    Kilocalorie vs. calorie: How do you use each term?

    Food and beverage regulations require manufacturers to showcase a Nutrition Facts label on products. This is to identify the amount of energy the food or drink has per serving (or per a certain weight).

    The labels slapped on food products keep buyers informed about the healthfulness (or not-so-healthfulness) of the foods and drinks. They also list ingredients and other information so buyers can accommodate allergies, intolerances, or general preferences in what they eat.

    The way these labels express calorie or kilocalorie information varies depending on where you live.

    Here’s a handy list of countries and their corresponding labels:

    Kcal to calories nutrition converter: How much is in your food? 

    The number of kilocalories/calories in a food or beverage is determined by the manufacturer and depends on the amount of energy from nutrients the item has.

    The three main nutrients that give us energy are protein, carbs, and fats. Protein and carbs both contain around 4 calories (16.7 kJ) per gram, whereas fat provides 9 calories (37.6 kJ) per gram. Booze has 7 calories (29.3 kJ) per gram.

    Manufacturers arrive at these figures by rounding to the closest 1-gram increment, so if you’re measuring the amount of calories or kJ from each of the macronutrients, there’s a chance they may add up a little differently than the figure you see on the nutrition label.

    Plus, the nutrition labels for foods that contain fiber (which is categorized as a carb) may have fewer calories than you estimate. Why? Depending on the type of fiber, it’s going to be either indigestible or badly digested, providing few or no calories. 

    Bottom line

    We use calories to measure energy in both our food and our fitness routines.

    The terms “calories” and “kilocalories” are used interchangeably to describe the amount of energy found in food. Whether food and drink labels list calories or kcals depends on geographic location.

  • Vitamin D and the Coronavirus: Is It Casual or a Serious Relationship?

    While we’ve stayed physically distanced and isolated throughout the pandemic, there’s been a lot of hubbub about vitamin D and the new coronavirus. But is this relationship merely a coincidence, or should you be adding vitamin D to your COVID-19 tool kit?

    We’ve done the vitamin D and coronavirus research for you to see just how vitamin D affects COVID-19.

    Marc Tran/Stocksy United

    Vitamin D refresher

    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Your body actually creates the active form of vitamin D when the sun hits your skin. And while you can get some vitamin D from food, the sun helps you soak up 50 to 90 percent of your vitamin D.

    If you live in a place that doesn’t get much sunlight, you’re at a bigger risk of vitamin D deficiency. Older age, darker skin tone, and medical conditions that cause fat malabsorption can also contribute to a deficiency.

    While we’re learning more about the new coronavirus every day, we do know that the new coronavirus attacks the respiratory system. And lo and behold, vitamin D supports the immune system and respiratory health. Here’s what some studies have found.

    Immune system health

    Vitamin D is super important to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.

    Basically, according to research, vitamin D helps deploy an immune response when a potential infection attacks your body. It also helps gear up immune cells like T cells and macrophages to protect your body from invaders.

    So if you have a weaker immune system, you’re naturally more prone to illnesses, which could include COVID-19.

    Vitamin D deficiency

    According to a 2020 article, vitamin D deficiency is often seen in people who have severe COVID-19 complications like:

    • pneumonia
    • severe acute respiratory distress syndrome
    • myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle)
    • cytokine storms (severe immune reactions causing inflammation)

    All these conditions create underlying inflammation, which can be controlled by T regulatory lymphocytes (aka Tregs). Basically, these cells can regulate or suppress other immune system cells and control the immune response to fight an invading disease.

    The same article noted that low levels of Treg cells are reported in people who have COVID-19, and vitamin D supplementation can increase Treg levels. So, the researchers suggest, if vitamin D can increase Treg levels, it might also be able to help reduce the severity of COVID-19. But right now this is just a theory.

    Respiratory health

    Back before the new coronavirus was around, a 2017 research review found that participants who took daily or weekly vitamin D supplements were more protected against acute respiratory tract infections. This was especially true for people who had a vitamin D deficiency.

    With that in mind, it’s no wonder researchers wanted to see if vitamin D could help prevent COVID-19.

    Can vitamin D help prevent COVID-19, then?

    The short answer: We don’t know. Vitamin D is definitely not a substitute for masks and physical distancing for virus prevention. But research does suggest a few relationships between vitamin D levels and the new coronavirus that might make it a helpful coronavirus vitamin.

    Recent research suggests a link between sun exposure and COVID-19 mortality. Countries located farther from the equator (and thus with less sun) had higher numbers of COVID-19 deaths, possibly because of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.

    This evidence is circumstantial, which means that although fingers are being pointed at vitamin D deficiency, the connection to COVID-19 has not been proven.

    Another 2020 study looked for an association between low vitamin D levels and COVID-19. Of the 7,807 people in the study, only about 10 percent tested positive for COVID-19, and almost 90 percent tested negative.

    The people who tested positive had lower mean plasma vitamin D levels than those who tested negative, but the difference wasn’t significant. Positive levels averaged 19.00 ng/mL, and negative levels averaged 20.55 ng/mL. This minor difference doesn’t show much correlation between vitamin D levels and COVID-19.

    Plus, low vitamin D level was dubbed an “independent risk factor,” which means it’s associated with the study outcome but there were other factors in play. These included being over 50 years old, being male, and being of low-medium socioeconomic status.

    The bottom line on vitamin D and COVID-19 prevention

    There appears to be a relationship between COVID-19 cases and low vitamin D levels. But researchers haven’t yet determined the cause of low vitamin D levels that might make you more prone to infection.

    As of now, we can’t be certain that vitamin D prevents COVID-19, but it can help your immune system.

    So what else might affect the vitamin D and coronavirus relationship?

    It’s possible that other correlations between vitamin D and the new coronavirus might make all these studies look like BS. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

    A lot of studies and reviews are showing a beneficial outcome, but nothing is set in stone because there are too many variables to consider.

    One 2020 review shared other evidence factors that link vitamin D levels with the new coronavirus:

    • The outbreak happened in winter, when vitamin D levels are at their lowest.
    • The number of COVID-19 cases in the Southern Hemisphere near the end of summer was low (because the Southern Hemisphere has sunshine).
    • Vitamin D deficiency contributes to acute respiratory distress syndrome.
    • Fatality rates increase with age and chronic disease — both factors that are associated with low vitamin D levels.

    The review ends by stating that randomized controlled trials and large population studies need to be done to evaluate these recommendations.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also states that people with certain medical conditions are at an increased risk of severe illness (hospitalization, intubation, or even death) from COVID-19.

    Some of these conditions are:

    • cancer
    • chronic kidney disease
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • obesity or severe obesity
    • type 2 diabetes
    • pregnancy

    Many of these conditions are also associated with a risk of vitamin D deficiency.

    We just need more info

    So could the higher risk of COVID-19 severity be linked to the medical condition itself, while low vitamin D is just a factor? To find out, we need more research on larger and more diverse groups of people.

    Can vitamin D help treat COVID-19?

    Research related to the new coronavirus is ongoing and constantly changing, but right now there isn’t much promising information to suggest that vitamin D can help treat COVID-19.

    Researchers in a 2020 study said they had found reason to believe vitamin D might help treat COVID-19, but their data was flawed. The editors of the peer-reviewed journal published an “expression of concern” about the study’s questionable sample size and noted that only about 31 percent of the participants actually had tests confirming a COVID-19 diagnosis.

    The bottom line on vitamin D and COVID-19 treatment

    There’s no substantial info yet to support theories about using vitamin D as a COVID-19 treatment.

    Should you still take a vitamin D supplement?

    Taking a vitamin D supplement may not be the COVID-19 cure you were hoping for, but it still comes with a lot of benefits. Plus, about 50 percent of the world’s population doesn’t get enough vitamin D (meaning we need it, COVID or not).

    Obviously, your immune system is crucial to fight infection, and vitamin D is necessary to keep that system strong. But vitamin D can also help keep your bones strong (potentially reducing fractures) and benefit your mental health.

    How much vitamin D should you take?

    The recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D are:

    • Ages 12 months and younger: 400 IU (10 mcg)
    • Ages 1 to 70 years: 600 IU (15 mcg)
    • Ages 71 years and older: 800 IU (20 mcg)

    Supplements will often contain more than the RDA because there is also a daily upper limit of 100 mcg (4,000 IU). This is for children above 9 years old, adults, and pregnant or breastfeeding folks. Reaching this level could require higher dosages of vitamin D beyond the RDA for some people but not for others.

    Before you stock up on vitamin D supplements, chat with your healthcare provider. They’ll be able to confirm whether it’s safe for you to take the supplement and recommend dosages. 

    Best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19

    If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Some of the standard preventive measures for COVID-19 are physical distancing (at least 6 feet) and wearing a mask in public.

    Other recommendations from the CDC:

    • Wash up. Wash your hands with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds, especially after you sneeze, cough, or blow your nose. In a pinch, you can also use hand sanitizer that’s at least 60 percent alcohol.
    • Clean. Disinfect those frequently touched surfaces on the reg. This includes desks, phones, keyboards, countertops, doorknobs… the list could go on.
    • Monitor your health. Be aware of how you’re feeling and watch for symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

    Get your flu shot!

    Cold and flu season is upon us. That means healthcare systems will be bombarded with patients who are battling both the flu and COVID-19.

    Getting the flu vaccine will help reduce your chances of getting sick and could preserve healthcare resources for people dealing with COVID-19 (which has a possible vaccine in the works!).

    Bottom line: Time will tell if this relationship is legit

    Although current research suggests a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and COVID-19, more research is needed.

    Right now we can’t conclude that taking vitamin D can help prevent you from contracting the new coronavirus. Wearing a mask, physical distancing, and washing your hands are still your top options.

    In the meantime, taking a vitamin D supplement probably won’t hurt, and it can help bolster your immune system, which might increase your chances of avoiding COVID-19. Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D anyway and could use a boost.

    It’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before taking any new supplement, especially if you have any preexisting medical conditions or take any medications that could interact with the vitamin.