My Coronavirus Plan

I’m putting this post together for myself. It is a collection of ideas that I found to be the most compelling related to the Coronavirus and personal health. It doesn’t mean they are right. This post should not be viewed as advice for you. It is not. You do you.

My Situation

I’m part of the 12% of adults in this country that would be considered metabolically healthy. Other than being male, I don’t have any of the surface risk factors for the virus. Well except one. One that isn’t being discussed much and at times is even being dismissed in the mainstream media. I am Vitamin-D deficient. At least I was on March 3rd.

  • VITAMIN D, 25-OH, TOTAL: 19  (below 30 is considered deficient)

You don’t need to dig very far to learn that many of the people having a rough time with the virus likely have low Vitamin-D levels.

Vitamin D and Immunity – important against Covid-19 (some of the images aren’t loading today)

In response to infection, viral or bacterial, the body’s defensive T-cells are activated as part of an enzyme cascade. This includes gene expression that stimulates further T-cell proliferation, and also increased synthesis of VDRs. As long as there is an adequate supply of vitamin D as calcitriol, there will be a feedback loop increasing the defensive immune response by a factor of up to 75.

This doctor is just one of many in the health community pounding the drums about the importance of Vitamin D as a protective role against being infected from something.

Also, check out Vitamin D Does Not Cure Covid-19 But It Plays an Important Role by Mish. Mish is one of those guys that knows a lot about a lot. I followed him regularly before and during the last financial crisis. He understands economics and risk, which are skills that missing from many of the people with the biggest followers during this crisis.

Every day, I take 5000 IU of a Vitamin D3 (with K2) supplement with food. I also go for a walk outside between 11 am – 4 pm when the UV index is the strongest. And unlike my fellow neighbors, I am not bundling myself head-to-toe covering every inch of exposed skin. I want my Vitamin D.

Side note: If your mayor or governor is telling you to stay inside and hide from the sun after a long winter, they may not have your best interest or the interest of society at heart. As a society, we all need to get out of the deficiency zone for Vitamin D and the sun is the best source. You can still get sunshine and respect social distancing.

Weight, Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, Smoking, Alcohol, Sleep

I’m solid on all these. I just thought I’d mention that in case someone asked.

Fasting Strategy

The virus appears to be targeting those with conditions that are associated with high levels of inflammation. Fasting reduces inflammation. See Researchers discover that fasting reduces inflammation and improves chronic inflammatory diseases.

During the initial weeks of the crisis, I was unclear on how I should approach fasting and meal frequency. David Sinclair, the author of Lifespan: Why We Age―and Why We Don’t Have To, provided this advice in his April 2nd newsletter:

Eat less often during the day. I skip at least one meal, usually breakfast, and eat sensibly at other meals.

Avoid super intense exercise or long-term fasting.

(The rest of the tips are the obvious ones. I’d link to this, but his MailChimp shortcut link is throwing server errors. He also likes “2500 – 5000 IU of vitamin D3 a day”.)

Peter Attia’s advice can be found at Fasting and COVID-19. The takeaway tips match those of David Sinclair.

Your normal time restricted feeding practice (for instance a 16:8 or 18:6 eating window) shouldn’t pose any risks with regards to COVID-19.

And hold off on longer fasts, because:

…there’s some evidence that a longer fast (2+ days) can cause a cortisol spike which could temporarily dampen your immune system.

My plan will be to skip breakfast most days and skip lunch some days. If I do a longer faster, it would be low-protein fast, which I’ve described in the post Fasting Mimicking Diet Overview.

My meals will continue to be nutrient-dense.

Cold Showers

Wim Hof is one of many that claim cold showers can potentially boost the immune system. He states:

Scientific studies have found that taking a cold shower increases the amount of white blood cells in your body. These blood cells protect your body against diseases. Researchers believe that this process is related to an increased metabolic rate, which stimulates the immune response.

Is it true? No idea, but I have been adding a cold rinse at the end of each shower. I like the alertness effect. I don’t see any downside either.

cold shower

Doccia fredda (Cold Shower) by Sergio Pani

Genetic Information

I downloaded my 23andMe raw data and had the site NutraHacker analyze it. It looks over all your variants and genotype risks. The report is very interesting for someone like me that likes data. The report provides actionable steps. There is a column for “encourage” and one for “avoid”.

NutraHacker-Report (PDF)

I learned on the last page that I have 2 markers associated with a downregulated Vitamin D receptor. Perhaps that partially explains my deficiency status? This further confirms my decision to focus on increasing my Vitamin D levels.

If any of my smarter science readers see anything else in this report relevant to immune function that I should be concerned about, please leave a comment.

Exercise

I’m currently doing bodyweight and Bowflex exercises at home every other day. I am walking 10,000 steps through a very hilly neighborhood daily.

I’m also interested in Wim Hof’s breathing technique, which he claims boosts the immune system. I have no idea if it does or not. I will be looking into this more soon.

Supplements

I’m following the supplement advice from this post. Since then I’ve added Vitamin C (a few grams a day spread out) and Zinc/Copper. I would add Selenium, but I already eat nuts on a regular basis.

Last Words

Even if every step in this post provides no defense for the coronavirus, they likely provide some health benefits. It is not my nature to sit on my hands and do nothing during a crisis. The least I can do is prepare myself as best as I can.

I’m not afraid of the virus. I fully expect to dance with it later this year and win. When I do, I want to be ready. What I don’t know is how long it will take to raise my Vitamin-D levels. I’ve seen estimates online anywhere from 2 to 9 months. But they just seem like guesses based on when the person got their next test.

If I got anything wrong or I missed anything, please leave a comment. This is a draft of a plan and everything is subject to be updated as we learn more.

13 Comments

Add yours →

  1. Thanks MAS. Are you finding the beef organ supplements helpful? I think I am.

    Also – this is my go-to Vitamin D supplement. I have my doubts about the absorb-ability of capsules and tablets. Plus this stuff tastes good:

    https://www.amazon.com/Vitamin-Organic-Cinnamon-Structure-Servings/dp/B07R1YGQSY/ref=sr_1_2?crid=12TIR8WWY4TQO&dchild=1&keywords=ideal+infusion+d3&qid=1587405954&sprefix=ideal+infusion+%2Caps%2C203&sr=8-2

  2. @Glenn – I know the organ meat capsules are helping my iron levels. I see the numbers when I donate blood. If it is helpful elsewhere, I do not know.

  3. I get colds only when I’m short on sleep and rest. It’s got to affect immune system significantly.

  4. https://youtu.be/PgDjVEpEOdQ. This is link as a video on Forest bathing. Apparently there’s evidence the trees actually increase immune system function. They’ve controlled four other factors and believe it is the trees having the effect.

  5. Hi MAS

    Dr Campbell whose update videos each day are excellent has long been pushing Vitamin D as a key factor in immunity in the context of Covid19. https://youtu.be/GCSXNGc7pfs

  6. Michael Smith (really)

    Apr 20, 2020 — 11:13 pm

    Mark Sisson recently mused that high dosing vitamin D might not be that sensible. See 20th question at link. Is he plain wrong?
    https://www.marksdailyapple.com/dear-mark-coronavirus-questions/

  7. @Hs – I discovered in my research that low Vit-D can result in cold hands. I’ve had this problem BIG TIME this past winter.

    @Chris – Thanks. I watched a different video of his. Thanks for sharing.

    @Michael – Context matters. Most people don’t know where their Vit-D level is at. I didn’t know myself until March. You don’t want to be too low or too high. And if you are too low, you don’t want to megadose to spike your levels.

    I think Rhonda Patrick said 4000 IU was a good catch up daily dose. Mine is 5000 IU. Close enough. As the UV increases during late spring and into summer, I plan to cycle off the supplement and just use sunshine.

  8. Michael Smith (really)

    Apr 24, 2020 — 4:27 am

    Thanks MAS, interesting stuff and I agree that context matters. Thanks for the inspiration and food for thought. Cheers.

  9. There has been talk about vitamin d supplements lowering calcitriol…. in cases where someone might have a low vitamin d test, but adequate calcitrol… personally, I’ve noticed supplements are a lot worse for my constitution vs sunlight.

  10. Hey MAS, I found you post interesting. Especially the talk of Vitamin D since so many people are just going outside enough these days.

    My question is do you think that Vitamin D supplements get absorbed efficiently and/or are bioavailable?

    Personally I take cod liver oil and eat sardines. Sardines especially since one can has about 30% of the RDA of Vitamin D, and they are super cheap. My reasoning is that it would be easier for you body to absorb a nutrient in the form of a whole food.

    I’d be interested to hear you thoughts! Take care!

  11. @Akhil – Take a look at the sequel to this post.

    https://criticalmas.org/2020/05/doubling-my-vitamin-d-levels-in-2-months/

    Mixing sun and Vit D3, I was able to go from 19 to 43 in 64 days. What percent role did each contribute? I do not know. I do know that UV scores were very low during the first month (Seattle).

    Now that we are into summer, I would only use Vit D as a way to catch up if I knew or strongly suspected that I was deficient. Mid-day sun is the best option.

  12. Good article.
    I started “time restricted eating” in September 2019. I restrict eating to 6-8 hours a day.
    In October, I started Wim Hoff breathwork and cold showers.

    Not sure if either helps, but I figure they can’t hurt.

  13. @MAS Thank for the response! The results you have are pretty impressive given the relatively short timeframe

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