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Vitamin D deficiency linked to high COVID-19 death rate: Get the nutrient from these foods

Vitamin D is known to protect against acute respiratory infections. © Shutterstock.

A new study has also found a link between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries. Boost your Vitamin D levels by adding these foods in your diet.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : May 12, 2020 9:17 AM IST

Till now a weak immune system is known to be the greatest risk factor for COVID-19 infection. But vitamin D deficiency may also make you more vulnerable to the infection or increase your death risk if you catch the virus. Low vitamin D levels has been reported in many COVID-19 patients.

A new study by British researchers has also found a link between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries.

As per the researchers, Vitamin D can protect against acute respiratory infections. They explained that vitamin D prevents white blood cells from releasing too many inflammatory cytokines. The novel coronavirus is known to cause an excess of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

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The study, published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, revealed that older adults are usually deficient in vitamin D, and thus are most seriously affected by COVID-19.

COVID-19 Cases Higher in Countries With Low Vitamin D Levels

Italy and Spain are facing high COVID-19 mortality rates, and the new study revealed that both countries have lower average vitamin D levels than most northern European countries. The researchers cited less exposure to sun as possible reason behind low average levels of vitamin D among people in southern Europe.

People in northern Europe were found to have the highest average levels of vitamin D. The researchers said it could be due to the consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements, and less sun avoidance. And surprisingly the countries in northern Europe have lower number of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates as compared to the nations in southern Europe.

Foods That Are High in Vitamin D

Your body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. But as people spend more time indoors, many are facing with vitamin D deficiency in their body. If you don't get enough sunlight, you need to fill the gap by eating more foods rich in vitamin D such as -


Salmon is a great source of vitamin D. Wild salmon contains higher levels of vitamin D than farmed ones. It is said that wild salmon contains about 988 IU of vitamin D per serving, while farmed salmon contains 250 IU, on average.

Herring and sardines

This small fish, which is eaten around the world, is also one of the best sources of vitamin D. Available as raw, canned, smoked, or pickled, eating sandiness can help you raise your vitamin D levels and keep away acute respiratory infections.

Egg yolks

If you don't like fish, you can have eggs. It is the egg yolk which contains most of the fat, vitamins, and minerals. The white portion contains mostly protein. From one typical egg yolk, you can get 37 IU of vitamin D.


If you're looking for plant source of vitamin D, mushrooms are the best ones. Like humans, mushrooms can also synthesize this nutrient when exposed to sunlight. The difference is that mushrooms produce vitamin D2, whereas animals produce vitamin D3. Wild mushrooms are better sources of vitamin D than commercially grown mushrooms, which are often grown in the dark.

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