Study: High Dose of Vitamin D Does Not Improve Outcomes for Patients With Moderate to Severe COVID-19

April 28, 2021
Skylar Kenney, Assistant Editor

A high dose of vitamin D administered at the time of admission to the hospital cannot improve the condition of patients with moderate to severe COVID-19, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“In vitro studies or trials with animals had previously shown that in certain situations vitamin D and its metabolites can have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects, as well as modulating the immune response,” said Rosa Pereira, MD, PhD, in a press release. “We decided to investigate whether a high dose of the substance could have a protective effect in the context of an acute viral infection, reducing either the inflammation or the viral load.”

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial followed 240 patients treated at Hospital das Clínicas and the Ibirapuera field hospital in São Paulo City from June 2020 to August 2020. The participants were divided into 2 groups, 1 of which was given vitamin D3 in a single dose of 200,000 units dissolved in a peanut oil solution and the other was given only the peanut oil solution.

The study was designed to investigate whether acute supplementation would affect the length of hospital stay for these patients, as well as whether it would mitigate the risks of admission to the intensive care unit, intubation, and death. The researchers found no significant difference between the groups for any of these clinical outcomes.

“So far we can say there’s no indication to administer vitamin D to patients who come to the hospital with severe COVID-19,” Pereira said in the release.

Studies are ongoing to determine whether subjects with sufficient circulating levels of vitamin D combat infection by SARS-CoV-2 better than those with insufficient levels of the nutrient. According to Pereira, the ideal level of vitamin D in the blood and the daily supplementation dose vary according to age and overall health.

The elderly and patients with chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, should have more than 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL), whereas an acceptable threshold for healthy adults is around 20 ng/mL.

“The ideal approach is case-by-case analysis, if necessary dosing the substance periodically by means of blood work, with supplementation if a deficiency is detected,” Pereira said in the release.

REFERENCE

High dose of vitamin D fails to improve condition of moderate to severe COVID-19 patients [news release]. EurekAlert; April 23, 2021. Accessed April 26, 2021. https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/fda-hdo042321.php