Vitamin D and COVID-19 for Patient Health Measures

The world is in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health measures that can reduce the risk of infection and death in addition to quarantines are desperately needed. This narrative reviews the roles of vitamin D in reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections, knowledge about the epidemiology of influenza and COVID-19, and how vitamin D and COVID-19 for patient wellness might be a useful measure to reduce risk. Click here for a study review by Sally Lynch, MS, CDN.

Vitamin D and COVID-19

Through several mechanisms, vitamin D can reduce risk of infections. Those mechanisms include inducing cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral replication rates and reducing concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs, leading to pneumonia, as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines.

  • Several observational studies and clinical trials reported that vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of influenza, whereas others did not.
  • Evidence supporting the role of vitamin D in reducing risk of COVID-19 includes that the outbreak occurred in winter, a time when 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations are lowest; that the number of cases in the Southern Hemisphere near the end of summer are low.
  • Vitamin D deficiency has been found to contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome; and that case-fatality rates increase with age and with chronic disease comorbidity, both of which are associated with lower 25(OH)D concentration.
  • To reduce the risk of infection, it is recommended that people at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 consider taking 10,000 IU/d of vitamin D3 for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25(OH)D concentrations, followed by 5000 IU/d.
  • The goal should be to raise 25(OH)D concentrations above 40–60 ng/mL (100–150 nmol/L). For treatment of people who become infected with COVID-19, higher vitamin D3 doses might be useful. Randomized controlled trials and large population studies should be conducted to evaluate these recommendations.

In this article, you will learn:

  1. Vitamin D and Mechanisms to Reduce Microbial Infections
  2. Clinical and Epidemiological Findings Regarding COVID-19
  3. Pneumonia
  4. Hospital-Acquired Infections
  5. Proposed Actions

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Source: Grant, W.B.; Lahore, H.; McDonnell, S.L.; Baggerly, C.A.; French, C.B.; Aliano, J.L.; Bhattoa, H.P. Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths. Nutrients 2020, 12, 988.