- A new study that looked at 216 people with COVID-19 found that 80 percent didn’t have adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood.
- The study also found that people who had both COVID-19 and lower vitamin D levels also had a higher number of inflammatory markers such as ferritin and D-dimer, which have been linked to poor COVID-19 outcomes.
- A different study found that COVID-19 patients who had adequate vitamin D levels had a 51.5 percent lower risk of dying from the disease and a significant reduced risk for complications.
- Medical experts theorize that maintaining adequate vitamin D levels may help lower risk or aid recovery from severe COVID-19 for some people, though more testing is needed.
A recent study discovered a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and a higher risk of COVID-19. Now, another new study has found the same — noting that more than 80 percent of people with COVID-19 didn’t have adequate levels of the “sunshine vitamin” in their blood.
As part of the new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers looked at 216 COVID-19 patients in a hospital in Spain. The scientists matched the patients to controls from another dataset.
Of all the patients, 82.2 percent were deficient in vitamin D.
In the research, men had lower vitamin D levels compared to women.
People who had COVID-19 and lower vitamin D levels also had higher inflammatory markers such as ferritin and D-dimer. Those have been linkedTrusted Source to poor COVID-19 outcomes.
People with vitamin D deficiency had a higher prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. They also had longer hospital stays for COVID-19, the study showed.
Comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity are associated with low vitamin D status, said Dr. Hans Konrad Biesalski, a professor at the University of Hohenheim who has evaluated vitamin D and COVID-19.
“It looks like patients with a poor vitamin D status may have more severe COVID-19,” he told Healthline. But the new study didn’t find that relationship.
Results Adjusted for Multiple Confounders
De Smet and colleagues looked at serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels in 186 patients hospitalized for severe COVID-19 infection as a function of radiologic stage of COVID-19 pneumonia as well as the association between vitamin D status on admission and COVID-19 mortality.
Cognizant of the potential for confounding by multiple factors, they adjusted for age, sex, and known vitamin D–affected comorbidities such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, and coronary artery disease.
Patients were hospitalized from March 1 to April 7, 2020 (the peak of the first wave of the pandemic) at their institution, AZ Delta General Hospital, a tertiary network hospital.
The mean age of patients was 69 years, 41% were women, and 59% had coronary artery disease. Upon admission to hospital, median vitamin D level was 18 ng/mL (women, 20.7 ng/mL; men, 17.6 ng/mL).
A remarkably high percentage (59%, 109/186) of patients with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient (25(OH)D < 20 ng/mL) when admitted (47% of women and 67% of men), write the authors.
“What surprises me,” said Teitelbaum, is that almost 60% “of these patients had 25(OH)D under 20 ng/mL but most clinicians consider under 50 to be low.”
All patients had a chest CT scan to determine the radiologic stage of COVID-19 pneumonia and serum vitamin D measurement on admission. Radiologic stage of pneumonia was used as a proxy for immunologic phase of COVID-19.
Vitamin D Deficiency Correlated With Worsening Pneumonia
Among men, rates of vitamin D deficiency increased with advancing disease, with rates of 55% in stage 1, 67% in stage 2, and up to 74% in stage 3 pneumonia.
There is therefore “a clear correlation between 25(OH)D level and temporal stages of viral pneumonia, particularly in male patients,” write the authors.
“Vitamin D dampens excessive inflammation,” said Teitelbaum. “In these patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, the immune system has gone wild.”
“The study was carried out in Belgium, so there’s less sunlight there than some other places, but even here in Hawaii, with plenty of sunshine, we have vitamin D deficiency,” he added.
“More studies are needed, but I think there are enough data to suggest a multivitamin should be used to aid prophylaxis, and this is reflected in [some] infectious disease recommendations,” he noted.
In an open letter being sent to world governments today (21st December), 120 health, science and medical experts from the UK, US, and Europe say there is clear scientific evidence that vitamin D reduces Covid-19 infections, hospitalisations, and deaths.