A recent study published in Research Square has indicated that vitamin D deficiency might be linked to an increased mortality rate for Covid-19. The study was done by the UK’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust and the University of East Anglia but it isn’t peer-reviewed yet.
Despite that, its findings seem both well-founded and promising. It also brings a little bit of irony to the quarantine restrictions employed by governments across the world. That’s because vitamin D can be acquired in several different ways, including seafood, mushrooms, egg yolk, and supplements but mainly by spending time in the sun.
To crank up the irony even higher, vitamin D deficiencies are extra prevalent in the spring since most people spend the whole winter with little to no sun exposure.
So, what does this mean for you? Spending as much time in the sun for at least 15-30 minutes is obviously advisable, especially if you do it while also exercising, which is another problem people are dealing with during these difficult times. Following the social distancing and quarantine guidelines in your state or country while doing so is still a must.
Taking vitamin D supplements, as well as eating a bit of seafood and mushrooms is also a good idea.
Why is vitamin D important? Vitamin D is produced by our skin cells when we’re exposed to the sun which is why it’s the best way to get it. Its main use is to help regulate the amount of phosphorus and calcium in the body. As such, it’s a vital nutrient your body needs and can only be acquired through external means.
In short, vitamin D is crucial for the overall health of our bones, teeth, muscles, and body as a whole. According to a review published in the British Medical Journal several years ago, vitamin D even plays a pivotal role in the strength of our immune systems and is important for fighting off the flu and the common cold.
As for the recent study by Queen Elzabeth’s Trust and the East Anglia University, it examined Vitamin D data from the citizens of 20 different countries in Europe. That data was correlated with the mortality rates of Covid-19 patients in those 20 countries. The findings after the detailed statistical analysis seem pretty definitive – people living in areas with severe vitamin D deficiencies had significantly higher Covid-19 mortality rates.
“The most vulnerable group of the population for Covid-19 is also the one that has the most deficit in vitamin D,” the researchers concluded, referencing the fact that Covid-19 is most dangerous to the elderly who also spend the least time in the sun.
Of course, correlation does not equal causation, as the saying goes, and some experts are not yet convinced of this study’s findings. The skeptics point out that many other factors can be the cause.
It could be that areas where people get more Vitamin D also offer other benefits to the population there as well. Or it could be people who don’t get enough sun exposure also lack other important factors such as sufficient fitness. Or, it could be that older people don’t get enough vitamin D because they are old and have a higher Covid-19 mortality rate for the same reason.
Whatever the case, the upcoming peer reviews will show how valid the study’s findings are. Even if they are invalidated, however, avoiding vitamin D deficiency is still important for everyone. That’s why most health experts and organizations are advising that people always make sure to get enough sun exposure or supplement with vitamin D supplements if needed.
So, regardless of how you feel about the Covid-19 pandemic, vitamin D is one of those things you shouldn’t ignore.