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Belgian researchers say vitamin D deficiency increases severe COVID-19 risk

Published Nov 10th, 2020 9:16PM EST
Coronavirus Treatment
Image: New Africa/Adobe

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  • Researchers from Belgium say that vitamin D deficiency correlates with severe coronavirus illness and an increased risk of death from COVID-19 complications.
  • The scientists say that it was mostly male COVID-19 patients who were vitamin D deficient.
  • Other studies have also indicated that vitamin D may play a part in the immune response to coronavirus and prevent overreactions from the immune system.

Almost a year after the novel coronavirus started spreading in China, there’s still no treatment protocol for people who recover from the illness at home. Hospitals already use various drugs that can reduce complications and save lives, including remdesivir, dexamethasone, and blood thinners. These need to be administered in hospitals under close supervision. Researchers are making progress on several therapies, including drugs and vitamins that you might already have around the house.

An increasing number of reports say that one of the vitamins we hardly pay attention to during non-pandemic times happens to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 complications and death. Many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency, but few pay attention to it unless they actually test for it. Researchers from Belgium are the latest to publish research that suggests vitamin D deficiency is linked with severe coronavirus cases.

According to an announcement, the researchers from AZ Delta studied the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and COVID, with the paper being accepted for publication in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology.

The researchers tested for vitamin D levels in 186 COVID-19 patients on admission and found a “clear link” between the lack of vitamin D and the severity and course of the illness. The researchers noted that the risk is separate from other vitamin D conditions, including chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. The study shows that it was mostly male COVID-19 patients that showed severe vitamin D deficiencies.

Vitamin D regulates bone density and strengthens the innate immune system, the researchers said. It can also prevent an overreaction of the immune response.

The study doesn’t prove there is a causal relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19 severity. A randomized study that will compare vitamin D with supplements could determine whether vitamin D is effective in helping fight against COVID-19 and whether it can prevent a severe course of the illness. The scientists did note in their announcement that avoiding vitamin D deficiency would be one way to prevent severe COVID-19.

In a separate study that will be published on November 20th, the researchers will show that half of the 16,274 outpatients and hospitalized patients tested for vitamin D in 2019 were deficient. A recent study said that vitamin D might play a role in suppressing the so-called cytokine storm that appears in severe COVID-19, which is an exacerbated response of the immune system that can lead to death.

Earlier this year, Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged that vitamin D deficiency will impact the course of the illness and that he would not mind recommending vitamin D supplements.

Exposure to the sun generates vitamin D, as do certain foods. Vitamin D supplements can help, but you should consult your doctor before you actually start taking any supplements.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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