Vitamin D Supplementation Does Not Appear To Prevent Or Treat Covid-19

Covid 19 virus, vitamin D
Image by Miroslava Chrienova from Pixabay

The latest evidence from scientists from Europe, the USA and the UK including researchers from the University of Birmingham have published a consensus paper on vitamin D supplementation. It categorically states that supplementation with high doses of vitamin D will not prevent or cure Covid-19. 

It is an important study because it has been reasoned that this vitamin might be an essential component in the fight against the corona-virus. At the moment the evidence to support the view that this vitamin is beneficial in this regard is poor and is insufficient to draw any firm conclusions. On that basis the authors all recommend that people follow Public Health England guidance on supplementation.

An almost mythical status had grown up around vitamin D in treating Covid-19. The vitamin is well known for its importance in bolstering the immune system and as a highly valuable nutritional compound for preventing rickets. It primarily helps in the regulation of calcium and phosphate. It is vital for bone formation and remodelling of bone and generally keeps us healthy. 

It was thought however that doses as high as 4000IU/day could reduce the risk of contracting the virus. This level could also be effective in treating infections.

One of the main issues about the high levels of supplementation has been the number of people presenting themselves at hospital with vitamin D overdosing. Strangely, it is not a true vitamin but a hormone that is produced in the skin when we are exposed to UV rays as in sunlight. 

The study is published in the British Medical Journal (Lanham-New et al., 2020).

It is worth noting that there are a number of forms of this vitamin. It is also known that an association exists between vitamin D and respiratory complaints and illness. 

The paper offers some valuable information for those like us posting in blogs. A summary is provided for social media purposes and is worth examining. It also gives a great critique of the general value of the vitamin and statements from government sources on recommended levels for different age groups. 

What is probably disappointing for many is that many populations with low vitamin D status appear to have the highest infection and death rates. Clearly a simple solution to treatment would be much appreciated by these populations at greater risk from Covid-19.

References

Lanham-New, S.A., Webb, A.R., Cashman, K.D. et al., (2020) Vitamin D and SARS-CoV-2 virus/COVID-19 disease. BMJ Nutr., Prev., Health. (Article)

 

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2 Comments

  1. Very interesting article. Great to read well researched pieces. I would be interested in your views on long COVID and whether there is anything to help patients suffering with this aspect of the disease.

  2. Not long after we write this article, an opinion piece in the Lancet was published as to whether there was a case for vitamin D as treatment for COVID-19. OK, it’s not answering the question directly about long COVID but the arguments made seemed reasonable enough on regulating inflammatory responses. There is plenty of evidence that vitamin D regulates immune related inflammation produced by other respiratory diseases. It is also known that the active vitamin D metabolite 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D which is the biologically active for of vitamin D has antiviral activity in the epithelial cells lining the nose when exposed to COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 as its called nowadays. The effects are mediated by the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) using animal models and overactivation of RAS as linked to severe illness from COVID-19. The paper referenced below gives some useful insights into vitamin D supplementation but it concludes by supporting supplementation by stating ‘there is nothing to lose’ from raising levels of intake especially in those people with a deficiency.

    See: Martineau, Adrian R, and Nita G Forouhi. “Vitamin D for COVID-19: a case to answer?.” The lancet. Diabetes & endocrinology vol. 8,9 (2020): 735-736. doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30268-0

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