Could Vitamin D deficiency be harmful to COVID-19 patients?

The recent research states that low levels of vitamin D can be one of the reasons behind the deaths of COVID-19 patients.

Myupchar May 08, 2020 16:00:08 IST
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Could Vitamin D deficiency be harmful to COVID-19 patients?

Almost the entire world is dealing with a pandemic right now. Scientists have been proposing different theories which could be responsible for making the conditions of some COVID-19 patients more severe. Another such study about severe cases of COVID-19 has been proposed by a group of scientists in the US.

Could Vitamin D deficiency be harmful to COVID19 patients

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The recent research by scientists from Northwestern University, US, stated that low levels of vitamin D can be one of the reasons behind the deaths of COVID-19 patients. The researchers noticed that when compared with patients from less affected countries, COVID-19 patients in countries like Italy, Spain and the UK, which have high COVID-19 mortality rates, had low levels of vitamin D in their body. However, the research available in medRxiv, a preprint server for health sciences, is yet to be evaluated and is not ready for clinical use.

The research

The research, led by the Dr Backman, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering, found that low vitamin D levels in the body can lead to an over-reactive immune system in the body.

The data for this research has been taken from the publicly available patient data from 10 different countries affected by the novel coronavirus, which are China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK and US.

During the research, Dr Backman and his team found that vitamin D not only enhances the inherent immunity of the body but also prevents the immune system from getting dangerously overactive.

When the immune system gets overactive, it gives rise to an inflammatory response, known as the cytokine storm, which is one of the reasons for death in COVID-19 patients.

Correlation of vitamin D with the immune system

According to the statistical data, low vitamin D levels are associated with the occurrence of cytokine storm in the body.

Generally, when a foreign microorganism enters the body, the immune system of the body gets activated and deploys the cytokines (inflammatory cells) to fight against the virus. This fight causes slight inflammation in that localised area.

But when the immune system gets hyperactive, the cytokines are released in a huge amount leading to hyperinflammation. This is called a cytokine storm which causes cell death, eventually leading to organ damage and even death in some critical patients.

It has been reported that in the case of COVID-19 patients, the cytokine storm is mostly seen in the lungs, which leads to respiratory failure.

Conclusion

The research does not claim that Vitamin D can prevent people from contracting the virus, but it could be helpful in reducing complications and preventing death in some of the infected patients.

The researchers added that their research does not encourage people to take unnecessarily high doses of Vitamin D as it may yield negative consequences. They further added that this aspect needs more research to find how vitamin D could be used most effectively to give protection against COVID-19 complications.

For more information, read our article on Vitamin D deficiency

Health articles on Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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