I previously wrote about the potential therapeutic effects of vitamins A, D and E in respiratory disease after a published UK Study.
Well, now another study that has been recently published as a preprint with The Lancet (although not yet peer-reviewed) confirms that vitamin D reduces the admission rates of patients to ICU by 82% and the risk of death by 64% in patients already hospitalised due to severe COVID-19 infection.
There has been much evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplementation to lower the rate of infection, severity and death from COVID-19. The studies have been pretty small, however, and have contained more observational data rather than observing actual causality.
This Spanish study builds on a smaller, similar study done by the same researchers last year that found that vitamin D significantly reduced the risk of ICU admission in patients already in hospital with COVID-19.
In the new study, 551 patients out of 930 received vitamin D in addition to the antibiotic and steroidal treatment they were receiving for their infection. Patients were followed up until they were discharged from the hospital or until they died.
The main findings were that:
Vitamin D treatment reduced the risk of admission to ICU by 82%
Patients who had a higher baseline vitamin D level on admission had a 55% lower risk of admission to ICU
Vitamin D treatment reduced the risk of mortality by 64%
Patients who died had a lower baseline vitamin D level on admission
Obesity increased the risk of admission to ICU. It is already known that obese individuals have a lower vitamin D status.
It's important to note that the form of vitamin D given to these patients wasn't the same as one could buy over-the-counter. They were given a highly potent form called calcifediol. The vitamin D you can buy over-the-counter comes in a form called cholecalciferol.
That said, it is worth getting your vitamin D levels checked if you can. I would aim for a range between 40 and 60ng/ml. This means taking a supplement of between 5,000 to 10,000 iu a day. This level of supplementation has been shown to be safe. Those who are overweight or obese, or who have gut dysfunction should aim for the higher ranges.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is stored in fat - not excreted in the urine like many water-soluble vitamins. It is worth getting tested again after two or three months of supplementation to find out how your levels are. There is a risk of vitamin D toxicity when you approach levels of around 70ng/ml, although it's quite a small risk.
People who have darker skin, or have very little or no exposure to sunshine should definitely consider supplementing with vitamin D.
Please share this information - vitamin D is a low-cost and widely available way of potentially reducing your risk of serious infection and complications from COVID-19.
Of course, the best place to get your vitamins is through food - but it's difficult to get the required levels and some of the foods can be quite expensive and inaccessible for some.
Some foods that have higher levels of vitamin D include:
(Please contact me if you would like to purchase practitioner-quality vitamin D supplements).