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.

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.

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

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.

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.