A Spanish study recommends more vitamin D for those with an increased risk
By Caitlin Finlay
More than 80% of the COVID-19 patients in a Spanish hospital were found to have abnormally low levels of vitamin-D. That’s according to a report published in late October in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. While researchers found no direct correlation between vitamin-D levels and the severity of the disease, vitamin D is known to affect the immune system, and researchers recommend that those with low levels of vitamin D who are also high-risk candidates for COVID-19 increase their vitamin-D intake.
A hormone produced by the kidneys, vitamin D regulates immune function, promotes both insulin production and promotes bone health, and controls blood calcium concentration. Vitamin-D deficiency has been associated with osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease.
The Spanish researchers looked at the relationship between vitamin-D levels and COVID-19 severity in 216 hospitalized patients; 82.2% were found to have a vitamin-D deficiency. By contrast, in a control group of 197 people from a similar geographic region with a similar age and sex demographic, only 47.2% were found to be vitamin-D deficient. The researchers also found that men had lower vitamin-D levels than women, possibly due to differing dietary habits or lifestyle, or the presence of other conditions.
Severe cases of COVID-19 are often linked to extreme inflammatory-system responses, and the researchers found that patients with low vitamin-D levels had increased levels of inflammatory markers, as well as an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease and hypertension, and longer hospital stays compared with those with higher levels of vitamin D. While the researchers did not find a direct relationship between vitamin-D deficiency and the severity of COVID-19, they do recommend treating vitamin-D deficiency in high risk patients as a preventative measure.
“One approach is to identify and treat vitamin-D deficiency, especially in high-risk individuals such as the elderly, patients with comorbidities, and nursing home residents, who are the main target population for the COVID-19,” stated José L. Hernández , a study co-author from the University of Cantabria. “Vitamin-D treatment should be recommended in COVID-19 patients with low levels of vitamin D circulating in the blood since this approach might have beneficial effects in both the musculoskeletal and the immune system.”