Most coronavirus patients are deficient in vitamin D: Study
More than 80% of hospital patients with Covid-19 lack vitamin D, which is among vitamins linked to fewer respiratory complaints, researchers in Spain have discovered.
They studied levels of the vitamin in 216 patients admitted to the hospital for Covid-19 treatment in March this year, finding that 8 in 10 patients were considered clinically deficient.
The work published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism also looked at a control group of 197 people who lived in the same geographical area and were similar to the Covid-19 patient group in age and gender. Among these people, 47% were vitamin D deficient.
However, it is important to point out that the conclusions of this study are correlative, not causative - meaning that it can’t be concluded from this work that vitamin D deficiency was directly responsible for a higher chance of being hospitalized with Covid-19.
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, but is also thought to have beneficial effects on the immune system too with some evidence that having sufficient vitamin D may give some protection against respiratory tract infections.
Despite its importance, vitamin D deficiency is common, with one study from 2011 estimating that 41.6% of U.S. adults are deficient. This number varies greatly depending on race with 82.1% of Black Americans being deficient and 69.2% of Hispanic Americans.
Vitamin D can be produced naturally by exposure to sunlight and found in some foods, including oily fish, eggs and fortified milk and plant-based milk substitutes.
The Spanish research is not alone in suggesting that vitamin D might be beneficial in protecting hospitalized individuals from adverse outcomes. Last month, a study from researchers in Boston found that patients over 40 were over 50% less likely to die from the infection if they had sufficient levels of vitamin D.
However, the more recent study from Spain wasn’t able to conclude any link between vitamin D deficiency and severity of disease. So the information regarding any benefit of vitamin D for Covid-19 is still a bit inconclusive.
In certain parts of the world, especially where sunlight hours are limited during winter, vitamin D supplementation is routinely recommended by physicians. It is important to note that too much vitamin D can be toxic and it can also interact with certain medications.