Does vitamin D help COVID-19 patients?

Does a high dose of vitamin D reduce the number of days spent in hospital by patients with moderate to severe COVID-19?

As previous studies have indicated, vitamin D can improve an individual’s immune response and insufficiencies of the vitamin could be a potential risk factor for respiratory tract infections. High serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are postulated to have anti-inflammatory properties, potentially helping patients suffering from COVID-19 symptoms. A team out of Sao Paulo, Brazil, followed two groups of individuals to determine if vitamin D3 could potentially be used as a treatment option for those suffering from moderate to severe cases of COVID-19.

This study, which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, observed 240 patients with moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. The trial took place from June 2, 2020 to August 27, 2020, with the final follow-up occurring on October 7, 2020. Half of the patients were randomly given a placebo, while the other half were given a single dose of 200 000 IU of vitamin D3. This dosage was chosen as it is in the range of what is typically prescribed to patients with a 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency. The placebo, a peanut oil solution, was indistinguishable from the vitamin D dose.

Although this clinical trial was randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled, there were still some limitations. For example, the medications that the patients were on to treat their COVID-19 symptoms varied and could have potentially impacted the effectiveness of the vitamin D. Additionally, the amount of time between the onset of COVID-19 symptoms and the dose of vitamin D varied between individuals. Finally, the number of patients with a 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency was lower than recorded for other groups, which could impact how applicable this study is to other geographic locations.

This research indicates that a high dose of vitamin D3 is not an effective treatment for patients suffering from moderate to severe COVID-19, and an initial single dose does not reduce the length of stay in hospital. More studies need to be completed to investigate the potential effect of vitamin D for COVID-19 patients, and if it can be used as a treatment option.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

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