A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine found a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and contracting the coronavirus.
Researchers looked at 489 UChicago Medicine patients and found those who had a deficiency in vitamin D that went untreated were nearly twice as likely to contract COVID-19 when compared to patients with normal levels of vitamin D.
“Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections,” said David Meltzer, MD, PhD, Chief of Hospital Medicine at UChicago Medicine and lead author of the study. “Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection.”
The patients that were involved in the study had their vitamin D levels measured within a year prior to getting a COVID-19 test.
According to the study, half of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, and even higher rates of deficiency are found in Black and LatinX Americans as well as areas like Chicago where sunlight is limited year-round.
“Understanding whether treating Vitamin D deficiency changes COVID-19 risk could be of great importance locally, nationally and globally,” Meltzer said.
According to researchers, shelter-in-place orders to reduce the spread of COVID-19 may also decrease sun exposure, and in turn, potentially increase the need for vitamin D supplementation which should not exceed 4000 IU per day.
“Vitamin D is inexpensive, generally very safe to take, and can be widely scaled,” said Meltzer.