Vitamin D

Description

The role of vitamin D and COVID-19 – the latest research

This in-depth and detailed article is provided by Eshani King, a researcher in immunology and health.

It is now widely known that a disproportionate number of COVID-19 related mortalities in the UK have been in non-white, BAME populations [2]. The obese, diabetics, hypertensives and the elderly have also been disproportionately affected. BAME doctors account for 94% of total deaths of doctors but comprise 44% of doctors [1]. The suggestion that these deaths result from deprivation does not fit with the high numbers of deaths of doctors and others in higher socio-economic classes; there must be a different and perhaps more comprehensive explanation.

This review examines the compelling body of evidence strongly implicating varying levels of serum vitamin D levels in the significantly disparate outcomes between different groups of people and between different countries. It explores the extent of vitamin D deficiency, highlighting countries and categories of people most likely to be deficient. It demonstrates that the UK suffers from exceptionally high levels of vitamin D deficiency with serum levels averaging only 20ng/ml, half the optimal level; It examines the strong body of existing evidence connecting vitamin D deficiency to increased respiratory tract infections highlighting the central epigenetic role of vitamin D in immune system responses during a respiratory tract infection with SARS-CoV-2; It reviews research flagging correlations between COVID-19 outcomes and vitamin D deficiency and studies providing the first direct evidence linking low vitamin D status with worse outcomes from COVID-19. Cautions regarding future trial designs and lack of evidence for toxicity concerns are both discussed. Current UK guidelines recommend  400 IU of vitamin D per day whereas 6,000-10,000 IU per day is required to maintain blood levels of 40ng/ml, widely accepted as being the level required to support immunity, optimal health, and reduction in all-cause mortality. The financial cost of vitamin D deficiency in the UK has been estimated at around £20 billion per annum.

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