Chicago — A new study has raised questions about the role vitamin D plays in mitigating severe COVID-19 symptoms.
About half of the patients in the study were vitamin D deficient, according to the findings of an Israeli study that looked at data from 253 people who had been admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 treatment. The researchers found that those with a vitamin D deficiency were 14 times more likely to experience severe COVID-19 complications.
According to the findings, people with low levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to die from infections and more than three times as likely to acquire a severe or critical case of the virus as those with adequate amounts of the vitamin.
However, more research is needed to confirm the relationship between vitamin D levels and how severe symptoms will be for someone impacted by COVID-19, according to Paul Spearman, M.D., director of the division of infectious diseases at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
“We have to remember that an association doesn't mean causation — meaning, that other things going on in [those people] with low vitamin D levels may cause severe disease, and not the low vitamin D itself," said Spearman, according to Good Housekeeping. "This type of study is hard to do and requires enrolling a large number of patients."
That doesn’t mean the vitamin is useless, as nutrition experts say it is essential for bone health, aids in muscle function and other key bodily functions. While more research is being done to understand vitamin D’s role, Spearman said the best protection against COVID comes from current vaccines.
"Taking vitamin D under medical supervision for those who have measured vitamin D deficiencies is warranted," he said. "[But] the best prevention of severe COVID-19 is certainly earned through vaccines, and the evidence here is undeniable."