In a retrospective study of patients tested for COVID-19, researchers from the medical University of Chicago found a link between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of Contracting coronavirus.
“Vitamin D is important for immune system function, and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to reduce the risk of viral respiratory tract infections,” said David Meltzer, MD, chief of hospital medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. “Our statistical analysis shows that this may be true for COVID-19 infection.”
The research team examined 489 patients at the University of California, Chicago who had their vitamin D levels measured for a year before testing for COVID-19. Patients with vitamin D deficiency (
The study, “Association of vitamin D status and other clinical characteristics with COVID-19 test results,” was published on September 3 in the JAMA Network Open. The results were previously published on medRxiv, a Preprint server for the medical Sciences.
Half of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, with much higher rates for African-Americans, people from Latin America, and people living in areas like Chicago where it is difficult to get enough sunlight in the winter.
“Understanding whether treatment for vitamin D deficiency changes the risk of COVID-19 can make a big difference locally, nationally, and globally,” Meltzer said. “Vitamin D is inexpensive, usually very safe, and can be widely used.”
Meltzer and his team emphasize the importance of experimental studies to determine whether vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk and potential severity of COVID-19. They also emphasize the need to explore which vitamin D supplementation strategies may be most appropriate for specific populations.