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Does Low Vitamin D Make People Vulnerable to COVID-19?

New research from Chicago indicates that people with very low vitamin D levels are more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
Does Low Vitamin D Make People Vulnerable to COVID-19?
Novel Coronavirus blood test Concept. Nurse holding test tube with blood for 2019-nCoV analyzing.

Has a locked-down season staying out of crowds and working from home been keeping you indoors? If so, your vitamin D levels might not be as high as you would expect at the end of the summer. Will that make you more vulnerable to COVID-19? Some research suggests that it might.

Are People With Low Vitamin D More Vulnerable to COVID-19?

Q. At a zoom party last night, the topic of vitamin D came up. I take 5000 IU a day, which keeps my vitamin D levels just where my internist wants them to be. Multi-vitamins like One A Day 50+ have 700 IU of vitamin D. My internist said that is not enough for me.

My friend said he thought low vitamin D levels make you more vulnerable to COVID-19. Is that true?

Links Between Vitamin D Levels and COVID-19 Infection:

A. Researchers at the University of Chicago investigated this question (JAMA Network Open, Sept. 3, 2020). They examined data on patients who were tested for COVID-19 at the hospital. Among them, a group of 489 patients had had their vitamin D levels (25-hydroxyvitamin D) measured last year before the pandemic began.

Nineteen percent of those who had levels characterized as deficient had positive COVID-19 tests. In comparison, 12 percent of those with adequate vitamin D levels tested positive.

Previous research indicated that vitamin D supplementation might reduce viral respiratory infections (Hormones, Dec. 2019). Many of these are caused by coronaviruses other than SARS-CoV-2.

As a result, the authors state:

“These findings suggest that randomized clinical trials with varying doses of vitamin D may be warranted in populations with and without vitamin D deficiency to understand if vitamin D reduces the risk of COVID-19.”

You can learn more about testing for vitamin D levels as well as supplements in our eGuide to Vitamin D and Optimal Health. When we have information about whether supplements can make people less vulnerable to COVID-19, we will add it to this online resource.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Meltzer DO et al, "Association of vitamin D status and other clinical characteristics with COVID-19 test results." JAMA Network Open, Sept. 3, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19722
  • Zisi D et al, "The association between vitamin D status and infectious diseases of the respiratory system in infancy and childhood." Hormones, Dec. 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s42000-019-00155-z
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