Vitamin K deficiency linked to harsher COVID-19 illness, study finds

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Lack of vitamin K might make your symptoms more severe if you contract COVID-19, one study finds.

Danish researchers looked at 138 COVID-19 patients from Hvidovre Hospital and compared their vitamin K levels to a control group of 140 healthy people.

They found that, on average, the COVID-19 patients had vitamin K levels that were half of the control group’s. In the 43 patients who died, the levels were even lower.

Vitamin K is important for maintaining healthy blood vessels. It is found in leafy greens, such as lettuce, kale and spinach, and in some vegetable oils, especially soybean and canola.

“We have investigated whether vitamin K is related to how it goes when you are hospitalized. Not whether it has anything to do with getting coronavirus,” Allan Linneberg, a researcher at the Center for Clinical Research and Prevention at Frederiksberg Hospital, told a Danish television station.

Why would a vitamin K deficiency make symptoms worse?

Vitamin K activates enzymes in the body that helps protect lung tissue.

“When these are not activated, the lungs become poorer and can explain why COVID-19 patients with low vitamin levels are hit hard by the illness,” Linneberg said.

“However, we have not been able to ascertain whether the Vitamin K deficiency has been caused by COVID-19 or if the patients had low vitamin levels to begin with.”

In August, a Dutch study found a correlation between coronavirus patients and low levels of vitamin K. That study led Linneberg and colleagues to look at Danish patients. They found a similar link between the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and low levels of the vitamin.

Linneberg pointed out the study did not prove vitamin K can prevent COVID-19 and recommends following general dietary guidelines on vitamin intake.

”We may need more vitamin K than we thought, but we still have to make sure we do not end up overconsumed,” he said.

According to the National Institutes of Health, women age 19 and older need 90 micrograms of vitamin K daily, while men in the same age range need 120 mcg.