COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- During a concern about what doctors are calling a possible “twindemic” this winter, new studies suggest that your blood may reveal how likely you are to get COVID-19 or any other disease.
With COVID-19 reaching unprecedented numbers during the beginning of flu season, many are wondering how they can protect themselves from both illnesses.
Unlike influenza, there isn’t currently a vaccine on the market for COVID-19. However, there may be simple ways to boost your immune system, making it less likely to catch either virus, one being a blood test.
"It tests 23 different vitamins and minerals, from A to Z basically,” said Amy Neary, who runs Any Lab Test Now in Colorado Springs. "It gives you results down to the nanogram of what your body needs.”
One of the tests her lab offers is a vitamin deficiency test. It’s a test several labs in southern Colorado provide. The theory is that if the test reveals vitamin deficiencies, you’re more likely to get sick. It’s a test that has skyrocketed in demand recently, according to Neary.
"It tells you what your body needs specifically to function optimally,” said Neary.
Reese Watt is a Colorado Springs local who got the test.
"I don't want to give [COVID-19] to anybody else if I don't show any symptoms,” said Watt.
"I don't want to give it to my grandparents if I go visit them, or to somewhat else at the grocery story, or something like that, even though everyone has masks on, I'm just trying to be as responsible as possible to take care of the people around me,” he said.
So how does the blood test work?
A very small amount of blood is drawn and results are given within 2-4 business days. Results are very detailed, bar graphs showing how rich – or deficient -- your blood is with dozens of vitamins.However, medical experts say when it comes to immune health, fighting off diseases like the flu or Covid, there are a few vitamins that matter more than others.
"Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium, Iron, protein, those are all needed for a healthy immune system,” said Kelly Smith, a Colorado Springs-based registered dietician.
And a strong immune system likely means you’re less likely to catch Covid or any other deadly disease. But especially important, is Vitamin D. In fact recent studies from the University of Chicago, Yale, Mayo Clinic, and JAMA, all say Vitamin D may be crucial in keeping a strong immune system.
“If you are deficient in Vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert who has been part of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force.
Fauci said, in an Instagram interview with actress Jennifer Garner, that he takes Vitamine D to stay healthy.
“I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself, taking a Vitamin D supplement,” he said.
But just how effective is Vitamin D in fighting off this novel coronavirus?
"What needs to be done is a randomized clinical trial,” said Smith.
Smith wants to see more evidence regarding Vitamin D’s effectiveness against Covid. That being said, she also does recommend anyone at risk to get tested for Vitamin D deficiencies.
"I'd probably get them tested,” she said. "You'll see less incidence of respiratory, especially acute respiratory illnesses or other coronaviruses."
So let’s say you get the test. You are Vitamin D deficient. What do you do?
"Probably going to sound like an old grandmother, but eat your fruits and vegetables,” she said.
Eat more seafood -- like salmon or tuna -- fortified dairy, or mushrooms. All of them have Vitamin D.
Or you can also take Vitamin D supplements.Just know that if you doneed Vitamin D supplements, it's important to get Vitamin D3 – that’s the best way for your body to absorb it. But before you take any supplement, even over the counter, you need to talk with your doctor first."
A healthy diet, including drinking water, and plenty of sleep, are also all vital to keeping a strong immune system.
If you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep or if you have trouble losing weight – those may be signs you’re Vitamin D deficient. If you want the blood test, you don’t always need a doctor’s order – it depends on the lab. However, it’s best to consult with your doctor first before getting the test or, again, adding any supplements to your diet.