More than 80% of COVID-19 patients have vitamin D deficiency and this deficiency is more common in men, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in which 216 patients were observed.
The covid-19 patients in this retrospective study were from the Marques de Valdecilla University Hospital in the Spanish city of Santander.
Vitamin D is a hormone produced by the kidneys that controls the concentration of calcium in the blood and affects the immune system, explains a statement from the Society for Endocrinology, which groups more than 18,000 experts from 122 countries.
Its deficiency is related to a variety of health problems, but the scientific community is still investigating why.
Likewise, more and more studies point to the beneficial effect of this vitamin on the immune system, especially with regard to protection against infections.
In this sense, José L. Hernandez, from the Spanish University of Cantabria, indicates that one approach would be to identify and treat vitamin D deficiency, especially in those groups at high risk of covid-19 disease, such as the elderly or patients with comorbidities.
Treatment with vitamin D should be recommended to covid-19 patients with low levels of this hormone in the blood, “since this approach could have beneficial effects on both the musculoskeletal and immune systems,” says this expert.
The researchers observed that 82.2% of the 216 covid-19 patients at the Marques de Valdecilla University Hospital had vitamin D deficiency, and that men had lower levels than women.
Specifically, according to this study, covid-19 patients with lower vitamin D levels also had elevated serum levels of inflammatory markers such as ferritin and D-dimer (a marker related to blood clotting problems).
The scientists in this study found no relationship between vitamin D levels or deficiencies and the severity of the disease.
The authors acknowledge that the work has some limitations, for example, that it has been carried out in a single hospital center, so the data may not be generalized to other settings, ethnicities or countries.
It is also an observational study, so whether treatment with vitamin D plays a role in preventing the disease or improving the prognosis of patients with covid-19 will have to be elucidated in large randomized controlled trials.
These trials are “certainly necessary” to precisely define the role of supplementation with this vitamin in future waves of SARS-CoV-2 infections, the authors summarize.