WASHINGTON — For months, scientists have tried to pin down what makes some people more susceptible to COVID-19 than others. A study of one hospital in Spain is pointing to a possible cause, vitamin D deficiency. Researchers say four in five patients dealing with coronavirus are also lacking the important nutrient.
A team from the University of Cantabria and Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla reveal 80 percent of 216 patients testing positive for COVID-19 had vitamin D deficiencies when they entered the hospital. Men typically had lower levels than women. Researchers also say coronavirus patients with low vitamin D levels had more inflammatory biomarkers in their blood. These included ferritin and D-dimer.
Why is vitamin D linked to coronavirus?
The study explains that vitamin D is a hormone produced by the kidneys which controls blood-calcium concentration. It also impacts the immune system and has been linked to maintaining a healthy growth rate.
Vitamin D deficiency has been connected to several health conditions including obesity and less resilience to the flu. Most importantly right now however, previous studies have continued to link vitamin D deficiency to worse COVID symptoms. One study finds patients lacking vitamin D are twice as likely to develop a severe coronavirus infection.
“One approach is to identify and treat vitamin D deficiency, especially in high-risk individuals such as the elderly, patients with comorbidities, and nursing home residents, who are the main target population for the COVID-19,” says study co-author José L. Hernández from the University of Cantabria in a media release.
“Vitamin D treatment should be recommended in COVID-19 patients with low levels of vitamin D circulating in the blood since this approach might have beneficial effects in both the musculoskeletal and the immune system.”
Along with vitamin D, studies have shown that vitamin C supplements may also improve human resiliency to coronavirus.
The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.