COVID-19 Resource Center
COVID-19 Resource Center
Source/Disclosures
Disclosures: Meltzer reports receiving grants from the NIH during the conduct of the study. Please see the study for all other authors' relevant financial disclosures.
September 08, 2020
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Vitamin D deficiency may increase risk for COVID-19

Source/Disclosures
Disclosures: Meltzer reports receiving grants from the NIH during the conduct of the study. Please see the study for all other authors' relevant financial disclosures.
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Individuals with vitamin D deficiency were more likely to develop COVID-19 than those who had sufficient vitamin D levels, data from a single-center, retrospective cohort study published in JAMA Network Open show.

According to a press release, half of all Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D. This deficiency is higher among African Americans, Hispanics and those with limited sun exposure in winter.

Predicted COVID-19 rates based on vitamin D levels: Those with deficient vitamin D status was 21.6% & Those with sufficient vitamin D status was 12.2%
Reference: Meltzer DO, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19722.

David O. Meltzer, MD, PhD, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, and colleagues reviewed the electronic health records of 489 U.S. patients at an urban academic medical center who had their vitamin D level measured in the year before they were tested for COVID-19. The mean age of the patients in the study was 49.2 years, 75% were women and 68% were not white. Among all patients, 124 had a vitamin D deficiency, 287 had “likely sufficient” levels and 78 had uncertain levels.

Researchers wrote that 71 of the 489 patients tested positive for COVID-19. A multivariate analysis indicated that testing positive for COVID-19 was associated with increasing age up to 50 years (RR = 1.06; 95% CI, 1.01–1.09); not being white (RR = 2.54; 95% CI, 1.26–5.12) and likely having vitamin D deficiency (RR = 1.77; 95% CI, 1.12–2.81) vs. having sufficient vitamin D levels. Predicted COVID-19 rates among the vitamin D deficient group were 21.6% (95% CI, 14%–29.2%) vs. 12.2% (95% CI, 8.9%–15.4%) in the sufficient group.

Researchers added that a U.K. study with a contrasting conclusion likely occurred because the U.K. researchers used vitamin D samples that were nearly 15 years old and failed to control for efforts by the study’s participants to improve their vitamin D levels.

Meltzer has started several clinical trials in an attempt to validate the findings of the current study, according to the release.

“Understanding whether treating vitamin D deficiency changes COVID-19 risk could be of great importance locally, nationally and globally,” Meltzer said the release. “Vitamin D is inexpensive, generally very safe to take, and can be widely scaled."