A new study shows that more than 80 percent of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Spain had a deficiency of vitamin D.
The study, conducted at the University Hospital Marques de Valdecilla, analysed 216 patients admitted to hospital for coronavirus, and found that 80 percent of them showed lower levels of vitamin D when compared to a control group of people of similar a demographic makeup living in the same area.
Details of the study were published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism on Tuesday.
The control group of 197 people, which was tested against the hospitalized patients, were given oral vitamin D supplements for more than there months before their admissions were analyzed as a separate group, according to CTV News.
The study also found that vitamin D levels in men were “especially lower” compared to their female counterparts. COVID-19 patients with vitamin D deficiency also presented raised serum levels of inflammatory markers including ferritin and D-dimer, according to SciTechDaily.
The study also found “compelling evidence” for an association between low vitamin D levels and infections from influenza, HIV, and hepatitis C.
“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 study co-author José L. Hernández, Ph.D., 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.”
“There are numerous pieces of evidence in the literature that support the beneficial effect of vitamin D on the immune system, especially regarding protection against infections, including viral infections,” Hernandez told CTV News.
Researchers expressed their interest in studying vitamin D because they found evidence to suggest that it plays a role in resisting COVID-19 infection. Vitamin D, which is naturally produced by kidneys and available as a supplement, affects the function of the immune system.
Despite the lower vitamin D levels in most patients hospitalised for COVID-19, researchers did not find an association between vitamin D levels and the severity of the disease, such as the need for a ventilator or death. Furthermore, they did not identify the deficiency as a “risk factor” for contracting the disease.
“We must wait for the results of the ongoing large and properly designed studies to determine whether vitamin D can prevent SARS-COV-2 infection, or reduce its severity,” Hernandez said.