Study: Vitamin D deficiency found in over 80% of COVID-19 patients

Editor’s Note: This story, which is based on a study published in July 2020, has been found to have evidence that has since been shown to be varied or inadequate. A Jan. 6, 2021 article published in the journal JAMA has found “research findings about vitamin D and COVID-19 have been mixed and sparse.” Additionally, the Mayo Clinic noted in a Jan. 29, 2021 FAQ that “there isn’t enough data to recommend use of vitamin D to prevent infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or to treat COVID-19, according to the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.”

COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Spain were overwhelmingly found to be deficient in vitamin D, according to a new study.

Researchers discovered 80% of 216 COVID-19 patients at the Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla had a vitamin D deficiency. Men had lower levels of vitamin D than women and COVID-19 patients with lower levels of vitamin D had increased serum levels of inflammatory markers such as ferritin, a blood protein containing iron, and D-dimer, a protein fragment made when a blood clot dissolves in the body. The latter is usually elevated in COVID-19 patients, according to a July study published in the “Journal of Intensive Care.”

“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,” said the new study’s co-author Dr. José L. Hernández of the University of Cantabria in Santander, Spain. “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.”

The new findings were announced Tuesday by the Endocrine Society and published in the medical organization’s “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.”

The kidneys produce the hormone vitamin D. It controls blood calcium concentration and affects the immune system.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of health concerns, but research continues to examine why it affects other systems of the body. There are many studies that point out how beneficial vitamin D is on the immune system and how it offers protection against infections, in particular.

Mayo Clinic infectious disease specialist Dr. William F. Marshall wrote that not enough data exists to recommend the use of vitamin D to stop the infection from the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, or to treat COVID-19, according to the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.

Multiple studies have reviewed vitamin D’s impact on COVID-19, according to Mayo Clinic.

A study of 489 people discovered those who were deficient in the hormone were more likely to test positive for the coronavirus than those who had normal vitamin D levels.

A small, randomized study saw that only one of 50 people hospitalized with COVID-19 who were administered a high dose of a type of vitamin D, calcifediol, required treatment in the intensive care unit. That’s compared to the group of 26 people who were not given calcifediol in which 13 of them had to be treated in the intensive care unit.

While vitamin D deficiency is common in the U.S., Black and Hispanic people are especially deficient in the hormone, according to a 2014 study. The two groups have also been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

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