Dr. Lee Smith of Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England stated “We found a significant crude relationship between average vitamin D levels and the number COVID-19 cases, and particularly COVID-19 mortality rates, per head of population across the 20 European countries. Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections, and older adults, the group most deficient in vitamin D, are also the ones most seriously affected by COVID-19.”
According to a recent study published in the Aging Clinical and Experimental Research journal, lower levels of vitamin D and COVID-19 cases with mortality rates may be associated. The study included COVID-19 patients across 20 European countries and was led by Dr. Lee Smith and Mr. Petre Cristian Ilie, lead urologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Spain and Italy have experienced high Coronavirus mortality rates and both have historically lower average Vitamin D levels than Northern European countries. This is partially due to decreased exposure to the strong sun, reducing the natural production of Vitamin D. Northern European countries, particularly Scandinavia, had lower mortality rates coupled with higher levels of vitamin D. The higher vitamin D levels are accredited to less sun avoidance along with higher consumption of cod liver oil and supplements.
These findings may be useful in the battle against Coronavirus since vitamin D has previously been linked to acute respiratory tract infections. One of the functions of vitamin D is to prevent white blood cells from releasing too many inflammatory cytokines. Coronavirus is known to cause an excess of inflammatory cytokines.
Dr. Smith adds he would advise a separate study dedicated to determining vitamin D levels in patients with higher risk factors, based on findings in a previous study showing a severe deficiency in people in hospitals and nursing homes.
It is noted that the study has limitations based on the number of cases in each country, number of tests performed, and the varying measures taken by each country to avoid the spread of infection. Mr. Ilie stated, “finally and importantly, one must remember correlation does not necessarily mean causation.”
Vitamin D is also vital to bone and cell growth, as well as neuromuscular and immune function. Since vitamin D is not naturally present in many foods, the best way to combat a deficiency is with supplements. For more information on vitamin D and its health benefits, contact us at 832-789-4989.