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New UK study suggests that vitamin D could help in the fight against COVID-19

New research from scientists at three UK universities has concluded that vitamin D could be useful in the fight against COVID-19.

The study, ‘The role of vitamin D in the prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 infection and mortality’, is currently unpublished but suggests that a deficiency in the vitamin, commonly associated with sunlight, could contribute to less successful outcomes in the fight against the virus.

There are few food groups rich in vitamin D (although oily fish, egg yolks and mushrooms are among those foods that are) meaning that people with little exposure to sunshine can experience a deficiency, with supplements often administered to boost levels.

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The UK-based research, led by Petre Cristian Ilie, from The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, Simina Ștefănescu from the University of East Anglia and Lee Smith from Anglia Ruskin University, examined vitamin D levels in the residents of 20 European countries.

The results, they say, showed ‘the mean level of vitamin D in each country was strongly associated’ with higher levels of COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Few food groups are rich in vitamin D – although oily fish, egg yolks and mushrooms are among the foods that do contain the vitamin – meaning that sunlight is the most readily available resource

Researchers say that residents of countries with low mean levels of vitamin D, including Italy and Spain, were among the nations with the highest recorded deaths from the virus.

The study concluded: “We found significant relationships between vitamin D levels and the number COVID–19 cases and especially the mortality caused by this infection. The most vulnerable group of population for COVID–19 is also the one that has the most deficit in Vitamin D.”

They paper continues: “Vitamin D has already been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections, and it was shown to be safe. We believe that we can advise vitamin D supplementation to protect against COVID–19 infection.”

Read the full unpublished paper here

Ilie, Ștefănescu and Smith, UK universities