Low Levels of Vitamin D Linked to Higher Risk of Death from Coronavirus
- May, 08, 2020 - 17:25
- Science news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Low levels of vitamin D "are linked to a higher risk of death from coronavirus" and supplements could reduce the severity of the infection, new research has found.
Researchers have now claimed that vitamin D could play a vital role in stopping the spread of Covid-19 and even said that sufficient levels of the sunshine vitamin could "cut mortality levels in half".
A team led by Northwestern University did however caution that now is not the time to start hoarding the supplements, after medication shelves in supermarkets across the UK were left bare at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic as shoppers started to stockpile.
Researchers conducted analysis across clinics and hospitals in the UK, US, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, China, France, Germany, Iran and South Korea and determined that patients from countries with higher mortality rates had lower levels of vitamin D compared to those in areas that were not as severely affected.
Vadi Backman who led the research, published in medrxiv said: "While I think it is important for people to know that vitamin D deficiency might play a role in mortality, we don't need to push vitamin D on everybody."
He added that the data set could lead to new therapeutic targets in the fight against Covid-19 that has so far killed over 30,000 people in the UK and 270,000 worldwide.
Backman and his team, including postdoctoral research associate Ali Daneshkhah decided to look into vitamin D levels after noticing unexplained mortality rates in various countries.
The team claimed that factors such as health care quality and testing rates did not appear to play a significant role in mortality rates.
"The healthcare system in northern Italy is one of the best in the world. Differences in mortality exist even if one looks across the same age group. And, while the restrictions on testing do indeed vary, the disparities in mortality still exist even when we looked at countries or populations for which similar testing rates apply.”
He added that instead there was a significant correlation with vitamin D deficiency.
The team found a strong correlation between vitamin D levels and a hyperinflammatory condition caused by an overactive immune system called the cytokine storm.
The condition can severely damage the lungs and lead to respiratory distress syndrome and death in some patients and the team said that this was in fact what was killing Covid patients, not the destruction of the lungs by the virus.
Vitamin D protects our immune systems and also prevents them from becoming overactive.
He added:"Our analysis shows that it might be as high as cutting the mortality rate in half."
He did however caution that it won’t protect people from catching the virus but could reduce complications and prevent death in those infected.
The team also highlighted that this could be why children have been less prone at catching the disease as they do not yet have a fully acquired immune system.
Backman said that people should not use vitamin D excessively and added that it could be key to protecting vulnerable populations and the elderly who have a prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.