By Dr. Max Gomez

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As the COVID-19 pandemic continues it’s become clear that the vast majority of people infected with the SARS-COVID-2 virus recover, some feel pretty sick, others much less so and most do not need hospitalization, much less an ICU and ventilators.

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The difference is almost certainly due to the individual’s immune system’s ability to fend off the virus.

That has led to a widespread search for supplements to bolster and strengthen the immune system. There may be one, but first you need to know that no supplement will cure or prevent COVID-19.

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But new studies out of Britain, Ireland and Northwestern in Chicago have found that vitamin D may play a protective role against this coronavirus.

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The British study compared vitamin D levels in 20 European countries and found that the countries with the lowest average vitamin D levels had significantly higher rates of both COVID cases and COVID mortality.

Interestingly, it was the northern European countries that had the highest levels of vitamin D because of their intake of cod liver oil, vitamin D supplements and fortified milk and milk products.

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Vitamin D modulates the response of white blood cells, preventing them from releasing too many inflammatory cytokine hormones, thought to be the main cause of COVID mortality.

The lowest levels of vitamin D are generally found in the same groups at greatest risk for COVID-19, the elderly and the institutionalized such as nursing homes and prisons.

While you should check with your doctor, most studies have found that vitamin D supplements are safe to take in the 1,000 to 2,000 IUS per day.

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For the top questions people have been asking about the coronavirus, visit cbsnewyork.com/max, and go to facebook.com/cbsnewyork to submit your question.