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Vitamin D and COVID-19

Overview: In a study published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers found a potential correlation between mean levels of Vitamin D and the number of cases and rates of mortality caused by COVID-19.

Article Citation: Ilie, P.C., Stefanescu, S. & Smith, L. The Role Of Vitamin D In The Prevention Of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Infection And Mortality. Aging Clin Exp Res(2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8

Abstract Link: View Here

Study Methodology: Systematic Review

Human or Animal Participants: Human

Who Does This Research Impact: This study can provide guidance about the potential protective factor of Vitamin D in treating individuals infected with COVID-19 and is particularly important for individuals who are presently deficient in Vitamin D.

How to Use this Info: 

  • Pay Attention to Vitamin D Levels: According to the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, the recommended daily dosage of Vitamin D should be 600-800 IU for the majority of individuals.
  • Spend Time in the Sunlight: It is important to protect yourself from prolonged sun exposure; however, getting adequate doses of Vitamin D takes very little unprotected sun exposure. Health experts recommend 8 to 15 minutes of sunlight for those with lighter skin and possibly longer for those with darker skin.
  • Take a Supplement: Most individuals can make sure they are getting the daily recommended amount of Vitamin D by taking a supplement. Between 1,000 and 4,000 IU is considered a safe dose for maintaining healthy levels of Vitamin D.
  • Eat Fatty Fish and Seafood: Fatty fish and seafood are among the highest dietary sources of Vitamin D. Those highest in Vitamin D include wild salmon (farmed has been shown to have up to 25 percent less), mackerel, tuna, oysters, shrimp, sardines and anchovies).
  • Consume Mushrooms: Mushrooms are the only complete plant-source of Vitamin D. Wild mushrooms such as maitakes have been shown to be higher than others in Vitamin D levels, but always make sure to carefully identify mushrooms to  be sure they are edible.
  • Consider Adding Fortified Foods to Your Diet: Because very few foods contain naturally high levels of Vitamin D, you can increase your levels by eating foods fortified with Vitamin D. Some of these foods are:
    • Cow’s milk
    • Plant-based milk alternatives (almond, hemp and soy)
    • Tofu
    • Orange juice
    • Some cereals
    • Certain types of yogurt

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Are Results of this Study Consistent With Other Related Studies: A deficiency in Vitamin D is a major public health concern throughout the world in all age groups, but is of particular concern for those over 70 years of age. Vitamin D levels deteriorate with age from decreased sun exposure and cutaneous synthesis.

Previous studies have examined the role Vitamin D supplementation plays in protecting against acute respiratory tract infections. A 2017 meta-analysis revealed that patients who were Vitamin D deficient, often those over 70 years old, experienced the greatest benefit. Additional studies have demonstrated that Vitamin D plays numerous roles in the immune system response to infection, including impairing macrophages from maturing and producing antigens.

Limitations of Study: The major limitation of this study is that Vitamin D levels are not currently available for COVID-19 patients. Researchers relied on previously established links between Vitamin D and the immune response to respiratory tract infections. Based on these links, the researchers in this study were able to establish a correlation between Vitamin D levels and the rate of COVID-19 deaths; however, further research is needed to account for other factors through direct measurement of Vitamin D levels among COVID-19 patients.

References and Related Information: