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In several posts over recent months, we have discussed the many ways that optimal vitamin D levels are necessary to initiate and maintain a healthy immune response, especially within the respiratory system. Our paper, Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths, was published last month, detailing the current research in support of higher vitamin D serum levels and decreased incidence of viral-induced respiratory diseases.
In a preprint letter (not yet peer reviewed), data is presented from 212 COVID-19 patients who had been hospitalized in three separate hospitals in Southern Asia. This is the first published data comparing the severity of symptoms to vitamin D serum levels.
Cases were all confirmed for COVID-19 and were grouped as follows:
- Mild – presenting with mild clinical symptoms and no diagnosis of pneumonia
- Ordinary – presenting with fever, respiratory symptoms, and a confirmed diagnosis of pneumonia
- Severe – cases with hypoxia and respiratory distress
- Critical – cases with respiratory failure requiring intensive care
Vitamin D levels were grouped as follows:
- Normal – vitamin D level of 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/L) or above
- Insufficient – vitamin D level between 21-29 ng/ml (51-74 nmol/L)
- Deficient – vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/L)
What were the findings of this study?
The average vitamin D level of all 212 cases was 24 ng/ml (59 nmol/L).
Of all COVID-19 cases
- 49 (23%) cases were categorized as mild, with an average vitamin D level of 31 ng/ml (78 nmol/L)
- 59 (28%) were categorized as ordinary, with an average vitamin D level of 27 ng/ml (68 nmol/L)
- 56 (26%) were categorized as severe, with an average vitamin D level of 21 ng/ml (53 nmol/L)
- 48 (23%) were critical, with an average vitamin D level of 17 ng/ml (43 nmol/L)
- 86% of all cases among patients with normal vitamin D levels were mild, while 73% of cases among patients with vitamin D deficiency were severe or critical
- For each standard deviation increase in vitamin D level, the odds of having a mild case compared to a severe case were 7.94 times more, and the odds of having a mild case compared to a critical case were 19.61 times more
- All outcomes were statistically significant
The author concludes,
“This means that serum (OH)D level in the body could account for the clinical outcomes of the patients infected with Covid-2019. An increase in serum (OH)D level in the body could either improve clinical outcomes or mitigate worst (severe to critical) outcomes. On the other hand, a decrease in serum (OH)D level in the body could worsen clinical outcomes of Covid-2019.”
Grant, W. B., Lahore, H., McDonnell, S. L., Baggerly, C. A., French, C. B., Aliano, J. L., & Bhattoa, H. P. (2020). Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients, 12(4), 988. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12040988