The risk of contracting COVID-19 may be reduced by sufficient levels of vitamin D, research finds.
A large Israeli population-based study found a significant link between low blood levels of vitamin D and COVID-19 infection.
Low plasma 25(OH) vitamin D levels in COVID patients seem to be an independent risk factor for infection and hospitalisation.
Dr Eugene Merzon, the study’s first author, said:
“The main finding of our study was the significant association of low plasma vitamin D level with the likelihood of COVID-19 infection among patients who were tested for COVID-19, even after adjustment for age, gender, socio-economic status and chronic, mental and physical disorders.”
A blood level of 30 nanogram per millilitre 25(OH) vitamin D and higher has been shown to protect patients with COVID-19 against complications and death, as well as reducing the risk of getting ill.
Sufficient levels of vitamin D could halve the risk of catching coronavirus and save COVID-19 patients from the worst of the disease.
25-hydroxyvitamin D is produced in the liver and it is a major form of vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.
Past studies have suggested that low status of vitamin D increases the likelihood of respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin D is crucial for immediate immune response through adjusting white blood cell reactions and reducing their production of cytokines.
Dr Ilan Green, study co-author, said:
“Our finding is in agreement with the results of previous studies in the field.
Reduced risk of acute respiratory tract infection following vitamin D supplementation has been reported.”
Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern, study co-author, said:
“According to our analysis, persons that were COVID-19 positive were older than non-infected persons.
Interestingly, the two-peak distributions for age groups were demonstrated to confer increased risk for COVID-19: around ages 25 and 50 years old.
The first peak may be explained by high social gathering habits at the young age.
The peak at age 50 years may be explained by continued social habits, in conjunction with various chronic diseases.”
Data analysis across 20 countries in Europe suggests that a large number of COVID-19 cases and high death rates could be related to vitamin D deficiency.
Besides being important for the immune system, vitamin D is a key factor in many physiological processes such as bone growth and calcium absorption.
Vitamin D deficiency has been related to cognitive decline, autoimmune conditions, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity.
A study points out that vitamin D is a seasonal vitamin and so emphasises the need for vitamin D intake in winter.
Exposure to the sun for even 15 minutes daily can give the body a chance to make enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D is found in foods such as oily fish including salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines, eggs, liver, and some fortified foods including diary.
The study was published in The FEBS Journal (Merzon et al., 2020).