Of the more than 200 COVID-19 patients treated in Spain, more than 80 % had a vitamin D deficiency - men were more affected by this deficiency. Scientists from Spain confirmed that in the context of infection.
Vitamin D acts as a hormone that controls blood calcium levels and affects the immune system. Its deficiency is associated with various health problems. Many studies show that vitamin D has a beneficial effect on the immune system, especially when it comes to protecting against infection.
Now, in turn, researchers at Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla found that as many as 80% of the 216 COVID-19 patients admitted between March 10 and March 31 were deficient in vitamin D, with men having lower levels of vitamin D than women.
COVID-19 patients with lower vitamin D levels also had elevated levels of serum inflammatory markers such as ferritin and D-dimer Of the 216 hospitalized, 19 patients - who had taken oral vitamin D supplements for more than three months prior to admission - were analyzed as a separate group.
In the control group (197 people of similar age and sex, from the same geographic area), 47% were deficient in vitamin D subjects.
Researchers have reported a higher incidence of vitamin D deficiency in hospitalized COVID-19 patients compared to the control group. However, they found no association between vitamin D levels and disease severity, such as the need for ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, or death.
However, a group of hospitalized patients who took vitamin D supplements prior to admission to the hospital had slightly better results than those who did not take them.
"The most severe forms of COVID-19 are characterized by a hyperinflammatory state, the so-called cytokine storm, which occurs in the first week of onset of symptoms and leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome and other organ complications resulting in increased mortality," Hernandez recalled. COVID-19 with lower serum vitamin D levels had elevated levels of ferritin and D-dimers, which are markers of this hyperinflammatory response. "
However, the authors of the study did not establish a relationship between low vitamin D levels and the severity of COVID-19 (including mortality). They also admitted that their research did not show that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for contracting the disease. "We have to wait for the results of the ongoing large and appropriately designed studies to determine whether vitamin D can prevent or reduce SARS-COV-2 infection," said Hernandez.
As Hernandez said, given the safety and low cost of vitamin D treatment, it would be wise to give it to those who are most at risk of deficiency - such as seniors and those with comorbidities - as well as those who are also at greatest risk of developing COVID-19 and the serious consequences of this disease.
"One way (for COVID-19 - PAP) is to identify and treat vitamin D deficiency, especially in high-risk people such as the elderly, patients with comorbidities and nursing home residents, who are the main COVID-19 target population, 'said study co-author Dr José L. Hernández of the University of Cantabria in Santander, Spain. "Vitamin D treatment should be recommended in COVID-19 patients with low blood vitamin D levels as this approach may have beneficial effects on both the musculoskeletal and immune systems."
Prof. Hernandez noted that there are many factors that may explain why men with COVID-19 have lower vitamin D levels than women. These factors include, among others lifestyle, eating habits and comorbidities.
The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency develop slowly and are often non-specific and therefore go unnoticed. In adults, it can be, for example, symmetrical pain in the lower back, muscle pain, pelvic pain, lower limb pain, throbbing bone pain, pain after pressure on the sternum, joint pain (especially in the wrist, ankle, shoulder), fatigue and depression, insomnia, headaches, problems with eyesight, inflammatory changes in the mouth and oesophagus, fatigue; hypertension, obesity, excessive hair loss, diarrhoea, periodontal disease, bone pain, problems with appetite, general weakness.
The conclusions of the study are presented in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. (PAP)
Author: Paweł Wernicki