Health Care

Too Little Vitamin D Might Raise Odds of Coronavirus Infection

Too Little Vitamin D Might Raise Odds of Coronavirus Infection”

University of Chicago Medicine researchers suggest in a new study that there may be a link between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of becoming infected with the coronavirus.

Those patients with levels categorized as deficient were found to be more likely to have a positive COVID-19 test result.

The researchers do note there are several limitations to their research, including the idea that people with vitamin D deficiency typically have several of the other risk factors associated with COVID-19, including advanced age, obesity and diabetes.

"The relative risk of testing positive for COVID-19 was 1.77 times greater for patients with likely deficient vitamin D status compared with patients with likely sufficient vitamin D status, a difference that was statistically significant", the authors stated in the recently published study in JAMA Network Open.

There's evidence that low blood levels of the "sunshine vitamin" - vitamin D - may increase a person's risk of infection with the new coronavirus, researchers say. Scientists found that people in countries that had the highest mortality rates from COVID-19 like Italy and Spain, also had the lowest levels of vitamin D. Conversely, the highest levels of vitamin D were found in northern European countries, like those in Scandinavia, which was among the regions with the lowest mortality rates, according to Science Daily.

"Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection", Meltzer said in a medical center news release.

Meltzer and his team emphasize the importance of experimental studies to determine whether vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk, and potentially severity, of COVID-19.

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For the new study, Meltzer's team tracked coronavirus infections among 489 patients whose vitamin D levels were measured within a year before they were tested for the new coronavirus.

The study was published online September 3 in JAMA Network Open.

Meanwhile, a same study in the United Kingdom found no statistical relationship between vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 risk.

Half of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, with much higher rates among Black and Hispanic Americans and people who live in areas like Chicago, where it's hard to get enough sun exposure in winter. According to the World Health Organization, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to pneumonia, tuberculosis and bronchiolitis.

Getting enough vitamin D through sunlight and supplements may help protect you from the virus, but there's no proof it can prevent or cure the disease.

Also, people in Finland and Norway are encouraged to take vitamin D supplements and these countries manifest lower COVID-19 deaths and infections. In particular, they cited the potential of shelter-in-place orders to decrease sun exposure, augmenting the need for vitamin D supplementation. A few clinical preliminaries have been started at the University of Chicago Medicine.

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