Vitamin D linked to reduced coronavirus risk in Black people: Study
New research shows that getting more than the recommended amount of vitamin D may protect humans from contracting COVID-19, particularly among Black people.
Higher levels of vitamin D were associated with increasingly lower risk of coronavirus infection in Black people, according to a study published March 19 in JAMA Open Network.
Researchers from the University of Chicago looked at data from 4,314 people who were tested for COVID-19 between March and early April 2020, checking their vitamin D levels based on the past year's worth of medical records.
They found that Black people who had the recommended levels of vitamin D (or slightly above) were more than twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 as peers with higher-than-recommend levels of the nutrient.
And those below recommended vitamin D levels were even more likely to get sick.
For white people, however, there was no apparent link between vitamin D levels and coronavirus infection rates.
This study was an expansion of a previous study from the same research team which found that people with vitamin D deficiency were twice as likely to get COVID-19.
The researchers wanted to see if increasing vitamin D beyond what is typically considered to be "enough" for optimal health could potentially protect against coronavirus.
"This supports arguments for designing clinical trials that can test whether or not vitamin D may be a viable intervention to lower the risk of the disease, especially in persons of color," Dr. David Meltzer, lead author of the study and chief of hospital medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine, said in a press release.
COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black and brown people, and vitamin D might be one solution
People of color may be disproportionately at risk of vitamin D deficiency, which could in part explain why they have been hardest-hit by the virus. The human body naturally produces vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight. People with darker skin take longer to produce the nutrient because they have more melanin, which blocks UV rays from the sun.
However, there is also strong evidence that systemic racism - from poor access to healthcare to fewer socioeconomic resources - is a driving factor behind the high rates of COVID-19 among people of color, and a supplement is not a silver bullet to outweigh that