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Vitamin D and Reducing Covid-19 Mortality Rate

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 19, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GROTHMAN. Madam Speaker, this speech is being given kind of on short notice, a little earlier than I expected. But we don't want to have the listening audience back home get any dead air, so I am rushing to give the talk. Hopefully, you will be satisfied, with not an excess of preparation.

Today, I address something I don't think has been addressed nearly enough with regard to the crisis of the COVID virus. In the last couple of weeks, we have gone over 250,000 deaths at least partially attributed to the coronavirus, and I want to talk about something we can do to decrease that number of deaths that I think has been far and away underpublicized, underpublicized despite the fact that we have appropriated over $3 trillion to fighting this disease, underpublicized despite the fact that public health professionals are constantly being interviewed on our news programs and are out and about on advertisements telling us what we can do to reduce the huge number of deaths attributed to this disease.

One thing I want to do today is I am going to talk one more time about vitamin D. I know some of the folks back home are familiar with vitamin D, but I don't think the huge number of studies that recommend vitamin D have been publicized anywhere near enough.

Right before I got here, I was talking to one of my constituents back home, a bright, well-informed person. He was surprised that vitamin D can be used to reduce the mortality rate from the COVID.

I want to go over some of the things that have been determined about vitamin D. We have had many universities doing studies. I mentioned all the way back in April and May, Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and Northwestern University down in Illinois have found studies showing a strong correlation between vitamin D deficiencies in patients leading to COVID complications and mortality.

Those with adequate vitamin D levels were less likely to experience hyperinflammation within their lungs and less susceptible to severe COVID symptoms.

Recently, in September, the University of Chicago Medicine and University of Boston Medicine, both conducted research studies substantiating the preliminary evidence between the correlation between vitamin D deficiencies and even getting COVID-19.

Professors at Harvard have also published articles highlighting vitamin D's benefits for respiratory health and mentioning the connection between vitamin D and COVID-19 as quite compelling.

European health professionals and right now the U.K., they have upped their recommendation for vitamin D among their citizens, something that it is high time our professionals were more aggressive in doing.

In late October, as part of a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers looked at 216 COVID-19 patients in a hospital in Spain. Over 80 percent of the patients were deficient in vitamin D if they had severe COVID. Only 40 percent of the population as a whole had longer hospital stays and higher inflammatory markers within their lungs.

If you look at this, again and again and again, the researchers are talking about the correlation between adequate levels of vitamin D and not having as much mortality or serious things happening, and you wonder why our public health professionals and the CDC are not talking about this more, as they should.

I know a couple of months ago, finally, Dr. Fauci talked about evidence of vitamin D's benefits, after waiting months and months for it. He finally talked about it, but he only talked about it in some interview with a Hollywood personality. He shouldn't wait for a Hollywood personality asking questions to point out that he himself, as the most prominent member of our public health community, takes vitamin D.

How much vitamin D should you take? I have talked to different doctors.

By the way, I come to this conclusion not just by looking at the plethora of research studies done by colleges and universities around the world, but by talking to individual doctors. Right before coming up here, I talked to a doctor from my district who routinely, every day, takes 5,000 international units of vitamin D.

I will point out that is not the only way you can get vitamin D. You can get vitamin D from wonderful, healthy milk, and you can get vitamin D as well from interaction with the Sun.

Sadly, during a lot of this coronavirus, people have been encouraged to stay inside rather than outside and getting the Sun, which would actually increase your vitamin D levels.

I would ask Dr. Fauci, the CDC, the NIH, and public health professionals across the country: When you begin to tell people what you can do to save yourself or save your loved ones, make sure they are taking their vitamin D.

There are obviously some communities more than other communities who are susceptible to vitamin D deficiencies. People with darker skin are much more likely to be vitamin D deficient; and, therefore, if you have darker skin, pay special attention to the necessity of taking vitamin D.

Again, it is not just for yourself. Make sure if you have any loved ones with cardiovascular problems, loved ones who may be a little overweight--I am a little overweight here, so I am not signaling anybody out, but if you are a little bit overweight, make sure you are taking that vitamin D. If you have got any diabetes, make sure you are taking that vitamin D.

Actually, earlier today, I found out another acquaintance of mine from back in the district passed away from COVID, and it kind of bugs me that the vitamin D is not being stressed.

A little while ago, I had the Surgeon General in my district. He rattled off five things to do. And they always talk about social distances. Fine. They always talk about masks. Fine. They always talk about wash your hands. Fine. But they don't talk about vitamin D, despite all of these studies.

I don't have an exact figure, but I would bet, if the entire American public had adequate levels of vitamin D--and right now, about 40 percent of the American population does not have adequate levels--I would bet that the number of fatalities in this country would be decreased by at least a third.

Like I said, none of these studies have an exact amount, but I think that could be that high. And if that is true, you are talking about maybe 80,000 deaths if only the public health professionals would put taking vitamin D in the same talks they give you about a mask or social distancing or whatever.

I am going to point out that it is more important than ever because we are going into the winter, and in winter you get what? At least in Wisconsin, you go outside less and you get less sun. And going outside less and getting less sun are both things that are going to accelerate the number of people who get the COVID, and get the COVID seriously.

So now I will say it one more time to emphasize: It is a good time to make a list of all the older people or people with preexisting conditions and make sure they get vitamin D.

Actually, as I am giving the talk up here, I would suggest for Thanksgiving--or for Christmas, even--stopping by one of our fine chains of drugstores and getting some vitamin D.

You can, on your own, look on the internet and hear what they say about zinc. A lot of people say some zinc is good as well, supplementing it. It is something else you don't hear the professionals talk about a lot, but when I talk to doctors in their own right, talk to nurses in their own right, yes, grab some zinc as well. They talk about patients who are taking both vitamin D and zinc and how they have almost no patients who have had to be hospitalized for the COVID.

So, in summary, I want to emphasize for the political geeks who tune in and watch this show: Make sure you are taking your vitamin D. Make sure you give vitamin D to older people who you know or people with preexisting conditions.

I especially emphasize to any public health professionals who are watching this little speech: Next time you are giving a talk on the radio station or if anybody is out there preparing the next set of commercials on how to deal with the COVID, emphasize the vitamin D and familiarize yourself with the studies from Trinity College in Ireland, the Spanish studies, what has been said at Harvard, the studies at Northwestern, and the studies at the University of Chicago and you will learn a little bit more about things your occupation ought to be talking about.

So that is all the time I have today, and thank you for allowing me to give this little speech.

I yield back the balance of my time.