An investigation at a hospital in Spain reveals new clues about the relationship between vitamin D levels and the severity of symptoms in covid-19 patients
Recent research by Spanish scientists offers new data on the relationship between vitamin D and covid-19 disease.
The results show that low vitamin D levels were more frequent in a group of 216 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in a hospital in Santander, northern Spain.
The vitamin D levels of these patients were lower compared to 197 people who were not admitted to the hospital, with no record of the disease.
More precisely, vitamin D deficiency was found in 82.2% of hospitalized people, compared to 47.2% in the control group, that is, the group of non-hospitalized people that was used as a comparison.
Among the hospitalized people that the study analyzed, those with low vitamin D levels had a higher percentage of hospitalization in Intensive Care Units (ICU).
People with low levels of vitamin D had a hospitalization rate of 26.6%, compared to 12.8% of those with satisfactory levels of the vitamin.
The time in the hospital was also longer , 12 days compared to 8.
However, in relation to mortality from covid-19, the difference was not significant, which may have to do with limitations in the data or methods of this particular investigation.
The researchers also warn that their results are limited only to the Marqués de Valdecilla hospital, in the city of Santander, and cannot be generalized to other countries, contexts and ethnic groups.
What did you find about the relationship between vitamin D and covid-19?
The study authors, members of the University of Cantabria and the Marqués de Valdecilla Hospital, warn that they were able to demonstrate an association between the presence of vitamin D and covid-19, but not causality.
That is, it is not possible to say that vitamin D deficiency leads to disease, or that vitamin D boosting can protect against disease.
The study clarifies that lower levels of vitamin D already tend to be found more frequently in the elderly and people with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer, which in turn are also risk factors for covid-19.
In the study, those hospitalized with COVID-19 and with low vitamin D levels were more likely to also have chronic diseases.
“Vitamin D levels should be interpreted with caution , as the population at risk for severe Sars-CoV-2 infection is probably the same population at risk for vitamin D deficiency,” the article says.
This deficiency is considered common in the world for reasons still under study.
The vitamin in the body
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are necessary to maintain healthy bones, teeth, and muscles.
Vitamin D, already present in our body, is activated when we are exposed to the sun , but it can also be acquired through foods such as fish, meat, and eggs.
There is also the possibility of supplements , but medical associations only recommend it in specific cases: people over 60 years; pregnant and lactating women; people with osteoporosis; people with so-called osteometabolic diseases, such as rickets; or in countries where at some times of the year people do not have enough exposure to the sun.
Low levels of vitamin D have already been linked to other viral diseases , such as influenza, HIV and hepatitis C, so this association is under study in the scientific field.
Researchers around the world are also seeking to understand the role of vitamin D in the immune system.
For the Spanish team, the results of their study indicate that enhancing vitamin D may be important for risk groups , such as the elderly vulnerable to fractures, osteoporosis and loss of muscle mass.