A recent study from Boston University School of Medicine found that hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) who were vitamin D sufficient with a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of at least 30 ng/mL had a significant decreased risk for adverse clinical outcomes including becoming unconscious, hypoxia, and death.

Further, the patients had lower blood levels of an inflammatory marker, or C-reactive protein, and higher blood levels of lymphocytes, which is a type of immune cell to help fight infection.

“This study provides direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency can reduce the complications, including the cytokine storm and ultimately death from COVID-19,” said study author Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics and molecular medicine, in a press release.

The researchers examined blood samples from 235 patients who were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 to measure their vitamin D status. These patients were followed for clinical outcomes, including clinical severity of the infection, becoming unconscious, and having difficulty in breathing resulting in hypoxia and death.

Additionally, the blood was also analyzed for an inflammatory marker and for numbers of lymphocytes, which the researchers compared between patients who were vitamin D deficient with those who were vitamin D sufficient.

The researchers observed that in patients older than 40 years of age, those who were vitamin D sufficient were 51.5% less likely to die from the infection compared to patients who were vitamin D deficient or insufficient with a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D less than 30 ng/mL.

Holick added that being vitamin D sufficient helps to fight consequences from being infected not only with COVID-19, but with other viruses causing upper respiratory tract illnesses including influenza.

“There is great concern that the combination of an influenza infection and a coronal viral infection could substantially increase hospitalizations and death due to complications from these viral infections,” Holick said in a press release.

In addition, the authors noted that this particular study provides a simple, cost-effective strategy to improve one’s ability to fight COVID-19 and reduce its adverse clinical outcomes, including requiring ventilator support, overactive immune response leading to cytokine storm, and death.

“Because vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is so widespread in children and adults in the United States and worldwide, especially in the winter months, it is prudent for everyone to take a vitamin D supplement to reduce risk of being infected and having complications from COVID-19,” Holick said in a press release.

Adequate levels of vitamin D reduces complications, death among COVID-19 patients. Boston University School of Medicine. https://www.bumc.bu.edu/busm/2020/09/25/adequate-levels-of-vitamin-d-reduces-complications-death-among-covid-19-patients/. Published September 25, 2020. Accessed September 28, 2020.