80% COVID-19 patients had Vitamin D deficiency, men had lower levels than women: Spanish study

Being vitamin D sufficient may reduce risk of death from COVID-19.

If you're deficient in vitamin D, you may have higher chances of getting COVID-19 infection and developing complications.

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is not just essential for maintaining healthy bones but also plays a crucial role in the function of your immune system. The deficiency of this vitamin is linked to a host of health conditions including rickets, heart disease, and dementia. Having too little vitamin D in the body is also known to increase the risk of respiratory infections. If you're deficient in vitamin D, you may have higher chances of getting COVID-19 infection and developing complications. There is a growing body of evidence supporting this theory.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism is the latest one. It revealed that 80 per cent of the COVID-19 patients in a hospital in Spain had vitamin D deficiency. The study included 216 COVID-19 patients admitted at the Hospital Universitario Marques de Valdecilla. Surprisingly, men had lower vitamin D levels than women.

COVID-19 patients with lower vitamin D levels also had increased serum levels of inflammatory markers such as ferritin and D-dimer, according to the researchers. However, they did not find any relationship between vitamin D concentrations or vitamin deficiency and the severity of the disease.

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The authors suggested that vitamin D treatment should be recommended in COVID-19 patients with low levels of vitamin D. In addition, they stressed the need for identifying and treating vitamin D deficiency, especially in high-risk individuals such as the elderly, patients with comorbidities, and nursing home residents.

Vitamin D sufficiency can reduce COVID-19 death risk

In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers from the Boston University in the US noted that having sufficient Vitamin D in your blood may reduce your risk of complications and death from COVID-19. They said so after finding that hospitalised coronavirus patients who were vitamin D sufficient (having a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of at least 30 ng/mL) were 51.5 per cent less likely to die from the infection compared to patients who were vitamin D deficient.

COVID-19 patients with sufficient vitamin D levels also had lower blood levels of an inflammatory marker (C-reactive protein) and higher blood levels of lymphocytes (a type of immune cell to help fight infection), they wrote in their study paper.

Increasing studies indicate that cytokine storm (release of too many cytokines into the blood too quickly) may contribute to the mortality of COVID-19. The Boston University study stated that vitamin D sufficiency can prevent this condition and ultimately death from COVID-19.

Another study published in the journal JAMA Network Open in September warned that vitamin D deficiency may raise the risk of getting novel coronavirus. In May, Aging Clinical and Experimental Research also published a study that showed a connection between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries.

Tips to boost your vitamin D levels

The sun is the best source of vitamin D. Your skin makes vitamin D from cholesterol when exposed to sunlight. So, go out and get some sunlight to boost your vitamin D levels. If your job requires you to spend most of the time indoors, make sure you eat more foods rich in vitamin D or take supplements. Mushrooms, salmon, sardines, and egg yolks are good sources of vitamin D.

With inputs from agencies

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