Coronavirus: Should You Start Taking Vitamin D?

The evidence for a link between severe covid-19 symptoms and vitamin D deficiency is mounting as more research is conducted into this relationship. In a recent study, published in Nature, 154 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus were examined. Pregnant women and patients with conditions such as COPD or other serious illnesses were excluded from the trial.

The patients were divided into two groups, A and B, with group B having severe covid-19 requiring ICU admission. The patients in group A were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms. In this group, consisting of 91 patient, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was 32 %. In group B, where the other 63 patients were in, 97% were vitamin D deficient. When compared statistically, this difference was found to be highly significant.

A recent study in India, where vitamin D deficiency is common despite the sunny climate, also found a beneficial effect of the administration of vitamin D in high doses to covid-19 patients. And a previous survey in a hospital in Spain already showed that over 80 percent of 200 COVID-19 patients had vitamin D deficiency. More research is on the way.

In the UK, health officials are now saying that even in a normal winter everyone should take extra vitamin D - and this is especially important this year because of the coronavirus. More than 2.5 million vulnerable people are therefore offered free vitamin D supplements this winter. This includes residents in nursing homes and those with serious health problems, which has left them protected from the virus for extended periods of time and without sunlight. Especially the elderly, people who spend little time outside and people with dark skin, so basically everyone, is advised to take a vitamin D supplement every day.

Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. A lack of it can lead to a bone deformity illness called rickets in children, and a similar bone weakness condition called osteomalacia in adults. To combat these conditions, which emerged especially after the industrial revolution, vitamin D has been added to cow's milk since the 1930s

There are also suggestions that vitamin D boosts the immune system and helps fight off infections. Some studies suggest adequate vitamin D levels help when we have common colds and flu, for example. And there is also some evidence that vitamin D plays a role in the seasonality of influenza epidemics.

So is it wise to take extra vitamin D in these times of lock downs and working from home? We think so. Too much of anything isn't good for anything, but 25 μg (1000 IU) of vitamin D3 a day might just keep the doctor away.

(November 2020)