A new study in the journal Nutrients has shown that severe vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of severe Covid-19 infection and death. In addition, most Covid-19 patients have a vitamin D deficiency.

A number of studies (for instance, here and here) have already shown that vitamin D deficiency can make Covid-19 infection more likely and more serious.

This should not be a surprise, because the broader role of vitamin D in modulation of the immune system is well understood. The vitamin is largely though to work through a particular enzyme and through receptors on immune cells. Vitamin D increases the effectiveness of immune cell function, as well as helping to create barriers to bacterial and viral infection.

Click here to read out article on how vitamin D deficiency is associated with obesity and depression, with an alarming 40% of the population probably being deficient.

In the new study, the researchers analysed the records of 161 patients with a new Covid-19 infection who were hospitalised between April and December at Botkin Clinical Infectious Hospital, in St Petersburg, Russia.

Less than 10% of those hospitalised with the disease had normal vitamin D levels. The number of patients with severe deficiency was largest in the group which displayed the most serious symptoms.

Furthermore, obese people suffered worst of all from the disease and were generally all to be found in the group with the most severe deficiency of vitamin D.

Data on vitamin D status in the patients involved in the Russian study

The study states that:

“Analyzing factors possibly predisposing to death in COVID-19 infection, we found that patients who died were older and significantly more often had obesity, arterial hypertension, or CAD. Moreover, patients who died expectedly had higher blood glucose, CRP, IL-6, and ferritin levels. Vitamin D mild and severe deficiency was strongly associated with death incidence.”

The authors go on to recommend vitamin D supplementation as part of the treatment regime for Covid-19.

“Taking into account vitamin D’s immunomodulatory effects, particularly the inhibition of NF-κB by increasing synthesis of IκBα, we can assume that vitamin D intake and the consequent achievement of a 25(OH)D concentration of 40–50 ng/mL (100–125 nmol/L) might have a positive effect in patients with coronavirus respiratory infections such as Middle East respiratory syndrome, SARS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2. This is supported by data from a few studies showing that use of large vitamin D doses in critically ill patients with viral and bacterial pneumonia, under mechanical ventilation, leads to shortening of intensive care unit treatment duration and prognosis improvement.”

We’ve written a number of articles on vitamin D, including an article on how this vitamin can make weight loss easier and a detailed primer on its role in keeping the immune system in tip-top shape.

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