Scientists from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust and the University of East Anglia have found that patients with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to die from the coronavirus. The average level of vitamin D in patients across 20 European countries was compared in relation to infection and mortality rates due to COVID-19.
The study also separately suggests that vitamin D could improve the chances of recovery in coronavirus patients. The Trinity College Dublin said in a recent study that adults who take vitamin D supplements experienced a 50 percent fall in chest infections.
The latest study used pre-existing data of vitamin D levels collected across Europe and the Middle East. To eliminate various factors like a country's latitude, the latest study narrowed its data down to 20 countries. Anything below 30nmol per litre is severely deficient as 56nmol per litre is the average amount of vitamin D in serum samples.
Elderly people have low levels of vitamin D
Existing data shows that aged people are more at risk of dying after contracting the coronavirus because they have extremely low levels of vitamin D. According to the data, 26nmol/L is the average level of vitamin D found in older people of Spain, 28nmol/L in Italy and 45nmol/L in the Nordic countries. An average vitamin D level of 23nmol/L was found in nursing homes of Italy. The researchers mentioned that these are the countries with high numbers of confirmed cases and mortality rates due to COVID-19.
Fish and mushrooms are some of the best food products to improve vitamin D deficiency in our body. It can also be produced by our skin cells when exposed to sunlight. While determining the correlation of deaths and vitamin D levels, the researchers concluded: "The most vulnerable group of population for COVID-19 is also the one that was the most deficit in vitamin D."
Scientists are still trying to find why vitamin D protects against the virus. Healthy vitamin D levels also reduce the risk of other respiratory diseases like influenza, tuberculosis and childhood asthma.
Vitamin D suppresses severe respiratory responses in coronavirus patients
Skin cancer researcher Dr Neale was quoted by The Australian as saying: "It would make sense that being vitamin D deficient would increase the risk of having symptomatic COVID-19 and potentially having worse symptoms. And that's because vitamin D seems to have important effects on the immune system."
Patients with low levels of vitamin D tend to be sick for longer. The Trinity College Dublin team found that vitamin D helps in suppressing severe inflammatory responses in seriously ill coronavirus patients. Professor Rose Anne Kenny, who led the research, said there was clear evidence of improvement in bone and muscle health and had major implications on immune responses. "Those cocooning and other at-risk cohorts should ensure they have an adequate intake of Vitamin D," she added.