Based on the data from 20 European countries, a new study has discovered low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of COVID-19 cases and death rates.
Vitamin D regulates the response of white blood cells, preventing them from releasing such a large number of inflammatory cytokines. The COVID-19 virus is known to cause an excess of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Italy and Spain both countries have reported higher Coronavirus cases. A study reported that patients in both countries had lower vitamin D levels than northern European countries.
The highest average levels of vitamin D are found in northern Europe, due to the consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements, and possibly less sun avoidance. Scandinavian nations are among the countries with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates per head of population in Europe.
Dr. Lee Smith, Reader in Physical Activity and Public Health at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “We found a significant crude relationship between average vitamin D levels and the number COVID-19 cases, and particularly COVID-19 mortality rates, per head of population across the 20 European countries.”
“Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections, and older adults, the group most deficient in vitamin D, are also the ones most seriously affected by COVID-19.”
“A previous study found that 75% of people in institutions, such as hospitals and care homes, were severely deficient in vitamin D. We suggest it would be advisable to perform dedicated studies looking at vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients with different degrees of disease severity.”
Mr. Petre Cristian Ilie, a lead urologist of Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our study does have limitations, however, not least because the number of cases in each country is affected by the number of tests performed, as well as the different measures are taken by each country to prevent the spread of infection. Finally, and importantly, one must remember correlation does not necessarily mean causation.”
- Petre Cristian Ilie, The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality. DOI: 10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8