Could Enough Vitamin D Lower the Risk of COVID-19 Death by 52%?

People who get enough vitamin D have a 52 percent lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than people who are lacking the "sun vitamin".

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the immune system and can fight inflammation. These properties can make it a key player in the body's fight against the coronavirus.

The rate of vitamin D deficiency is also higher in some of the same groups most affected by the coronavirus: people of color and the elderly. It is by no means a causal link, but suggests that vitamin D could play a role in who gets COVI-19, who gets the sickest, and who is spared overall.

Dr. Michael Holick of Boston University found in his previous research that people with enough vitamin D are 54 percent less likely to get coronavirus at all.

Following this work, he and his team found that people who don't get enough of the vitamin are much more likely to get seriously ill, develop sepsis, or even die after contracting coronavirus.

Since vitamin D deficiency is common in people with other diseases that increase their risk of coronavirus, it is impossible to say exactly how many lives would be spared if we were all given our daily dose of the sun vitamin.

However, we do know that approximately 42 percent of the US population is vitamin D deficient. If that rate applies to the more than 203,000 Americans who have died from coronavirus, perhaps 85,000 would have fared better with improved vitamin D levels.

Whether vitamin D supplements should be taken to reduce the risk of coronavirus is controversial. However, the immune system's adequate ability to fight infection and keep inflammation from spiraling out of control does play a role. New research suggests COVID-19 patients who get enough vitamin D are 52% less likely to die from infection (file)

"This study provides direct evidence that adequate levels of vitamin D can reduce complications, including the cytokine storm (too many proteins released too quickly in the blood) and ultimately death from COVID-19," said Dr. Holick.

Dr. Holick and his colleagues took blood samples from 235 patients admitted to hospitals in Tehran for COVID-19.

Overall, 67 percent of patients had vitamin D levels below 30 ng / ml.

There is no clear marker of ideal vitamin D levels, but 30 ng / ml is considered sufficient. Anything below this is “inadequate”, but does not necessarily have far-reaching health consequences, while values ​​below 20 ng / ml are considered “insufficient”.

In the US, an estimated 42 percent of people are vitamin D deficient, but the rate varies significantly between populations.

For example, it is believed that around 60 percent of the elderly who live in nursing homes are vitamin D deficient.

The most likely explanation is that they just spend too much time indoors.

Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D.

When we are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in the sun's rays, it reacts with cholesterol in our skin and triggers the production of vitamin D.

In an increasingly indoor world, vitamin D deficiency rates have increased.


Among the patients in the BU study, those who had adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood were less likely to have dangerously low blood oxygen levels and were more likely to be conscious upon arrival at hospitals.

Patients with low levels of vitamin D were 46 percent more likely to need intubation or develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – the pulmonary insufficiency that is fatal in many COVID-19 patients.

Patients with vitamin D deficiency also had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a likely early marker of severe COVID-19, and low white blood cell counts – a bad sign of their immune system.

Although no one died under the age of 40 in the study, deaths (red) were more common in people with vitamin D deficiency (below the black line) of all ages

Although no one died under the age of 40 in the study, deaths (red) were more common in people with vitamin D deficiency (below the black line) of all ages

Overall, 74 percent of patients between the ages of 30 and 90 developed severe COVID-19.

But the rate among people with enough vitamin D was lower: about 64 percent had serious illnesses.

All patients under 40 years of age included in the study survived COVID-19.

But 16.3 percent of those over 40 – 38 people – ultimately died of coronavirus.

These included only 9.7 percent of people with adequate vitamin D levels, while 20 percent of people with low vitamin D levels died.


Sunlight is our main source of vitamin D.

The reaction of UV light with cholesterol triggers the production of the vitamin.

However, people with darker skin have more melanin, making it harder for the skin to absorb UV radiation and make vitamin D.

We can also incorporate vitamin D into our systems – albeit in smaller doses – in our diets by eating foods including:

  • FISH: such as salmon, trout, halibut, mackerel, sturgeon, swordfish and cod, herring, sardines and tilapia
  • MUSHROOMS: including portobellos and chanterelles
  • MILK: including low-fat milk, low-fat chocolate milk, soy milk, almond milk and rice milk
  • YOGURT: most types and flavors

Additionally, those with particularly high levels of vitamin D – 40 ng / ml – had the lowest risk of death. Only 6.3 percent of this group died.


Vitamin D is a common component of numerous immune system processes.

To name a few, it helps immune cells attach to their target pathogens, it regulates killer T cells that haunt everything from bacteria to cancer, and, perhaps most importantly, it helps balance the "good ones" Keeping inflammation in check when immune cells flood A site of infection and a "bad" inflammation that goes haywire and attacks healthy cells.

In particular, it mitigates cytokines, the immune proteins that lead to a deadly "storm" in many coronavirus patients.

"Indeed, the anti-inflammatory role of 1,25 (OH) 2D" – the chemical name for the vitamin – could explain the protective function of vitamin D against immune hyperreactions and cytokine storms in a subset of patients with severe COVID. 19 & # 39; wrote the study authors.


Vitamin D deficiency often occurs in groups with chronic conditions such as heart disease and obesity, which are also more prone to COVID-19. However, it is complicated to figure out whether vitamin deficiency is a factor leading to these conditions, or vice versa, and scientists are still working on answers.

The nutritional deficiency is also common in people of color. In fact, vitamin D deficiency is almost twice as common in black Americans, at around 76 percent, than in white people in the United States.

Higher levels of melanin in the skin of black and brown people make it harder for their bodies to absorb the vitamin.

These groups have been disproportionately hit by the coronavirus in terms of both cases and deaths.

Since the sun is a key element in vitamin D production, the BU researchers saw an additional parallel to the coronavirus: timing.

'It is noteworthy that the COVID-19 outbreak began in winter. In 1981 a "Seasonal Stimulus: Hypothesis" was proposed to explain epidemics of influenza A around the winter solstice. The biology, physiology, and epidemiology of vitamin D suggest that vitamin D is a likely candidate for the "seasonal stimulus" since blood is 25 (OH) D levels lowest at the end of winter, ”the study authors wrote and referred to the last major pandemic in the world, the Spanish flu.

Mayo Clinic experts recommend consuming at least 600 IU of vitamin D daily, whether through sunshine or supplements. It is generally considered safe to take up to 2,000 IU per day, but anyone with or at risk of kidney disease should not do this, as overloading can damage the kidneys and cause stones and other problems.

Taking too much can also raise calcium levels, cause a variety of digestive problems, and in some cases lead to bone loss – and scientists still don't know what exactly is the optimal vitamin D level or how much is too much.

(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Gesundheit (t) Coronavirus