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In a retrospective cohort study published in JAMA Network Open, researchers found that medical center patients deficient in vitamin D were almost twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to those with sufficient levels of the vitamin. This has major public health implications, due to the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the US.
The research team analyzed data from 489 patients at the University of Chicago Medicine who were tested for COVID-19 from March 3 to April 10, 2020, and had their vitamin D levels checked during the previous year. Those found to be vitamin D deficient who had not received treatment for that deficiency had a 1.77 times greater likelihood of testing positive on a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test than those with vitamin D sufficiency. Deficiency was defined as a 25-hydroxycholecalciferol level of less than 20 ng/mL or a 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol level of less than 18 pg/mL.
David Meltzer, MD, PhD, the study’s lead author, observed: “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. Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection.”
The researchers concluded that further studies are needed to determine if interventions to reduce vitamin D deficiency – both within the general population and within targeted high-risk groups – can reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
Vitamin D deficiency may raise risk of getting COVID-19. UChicago Medicine, September 3, 2020. uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vitamin-d-deficiency-may-raise-risk-of-getting-covid19.
Meltzer DO, et al. Association of vitamin D status and other clinical characteristics with COVID-19 test results. JAMA Network Open. 2020; 3(9):e2019722. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19722.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Summer 2020 | Volume 44, Number 2
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