Vitamin D deficiency may increase risk for COVID-19
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.
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."