Recent studies have highlighted countless benefits associated with maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D, including lowering cancer risk, reducing vertigo-related symptoms, and improving consumers’ ability to exercise.
Now, researchers are exploring how the vitamin impacts COVID-19, including its protective benefits. According to experts, there is no evidence that indicates vitamin D can protect consumers from the coronavirus or reduce the severity of the infection.
“Vitamin D supplementation as a public health measure to improve outcomes is not supported by this study,” the researchers wrote. “Most importantly, our results suggest that investment in other therapeutic or preventive avenues should be prioritized for COVID-19 randomized trials.”
Vitamin D doesn’t protect against COVID-19
To understand what impact vitamin D has on COVID-19, the researchers adopted a genetic approach for the study. They applied a Mendelian randomization technique, which analyzes DNA and determines health risks based on genetic variations. This study included over 1.2 million people without COVID-19 and more than 4,100 people with COVID-19 to determine how vitamin D levels played a role in infection risk.
Ultimately, the researchers didn’t identify a link between vitamin D and COVID-19. This was true in terms of participants contracting the virus and the severity of the infection.
“Most vitamin D studies are very difficult to interpret since they cannot adjust for the known risk factors for severe COVID-19 (e.g. older age, institutionalization, having chronic diseases) which are also predictors of low vitamin D,” said researcher Dr. Guillaume Butler-Laporte. “Therefore, the best way to answer the question of the effect vitamin D would have would be through randomized trials, but these are complex and resource intensive, and take a long time during a pandemic.
“Mendelian randomization can provide more clear insights into the role of risk factors like vitamin D because they can decrease potential bias from associated risk factors like institutionalization and chronic disease,” he added. “Here, this method does not clear evidence that vitamin D supplementation would have a large effect on COVID-19 outcomes.”
Though reports have indicated that higher vitamin D levels can serve as a layer of protection against COVID-19 and even help consumers keep their symptoms mild, the researchers say this isn’t the case. Additionally, they don’t recommend that consumers increase their vitamin D intake in an effort to protect against COVID-19; while the supplement does have other benefits, their work showed there is no correlation between vitamin D intake and reduced risk or severity of the virus.