A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine found possible connection between vitamin D deficiency and contracting the coronavirus.
The Association of Vitamin D Status and Other Clinical Characteristics With COVID-19 Test Results, was published September 3 in JAMA Network Open.
The researchers looked at 489 University of Chicago Medicine patients and found those who had a deficiency in vitamin D that went untreated were nearly twice as likely to contract COVID-19 when compared to patients with normal levels of vitamin D.
“Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system, and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections,” said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at University of Chicago Medicine and lead author of the study.
“Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection,” he said.
The patients that were involved in the study had their vitamin D levels measured within a year prior to getting a COVID-19 test.
According to the study, almost half of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, with much higher rates seen in African Americans, Hispanics and individuals living in areas like Chicago where sunlight is limited all year-round, and makes it difficult to get enough sun exposure especially in the winter season.
“Understanding whether treating Vitamin D deficiency changes COVID-19 risk could be of great importance locally, nationally and globally,” said Meltzer.
According to researchers, shelter-in-place orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19 may also decrease sun exposure, and in turn, potentially increase the need for vitamin D supplementation which should not exceed 4000 IU per day.
“Vitamin D is inexpensive, generally very safe to take, and can be widely scaled,” Meltzer said.