Researchers from Trinity College Dublin are calling on the government in Ireland to change recommendations for vitamin D supplements.
A new publication from Dr Eamon Laird and Professor Rose Anne Kenny, School of Medicine, and the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), in collaboration with Professor Jon Rhodes at University of Liverpool, highlights the association between vitamin D levels and mortality from COVID-19.
The authors of the article, just published in the Irish Medical Journal, analysed all European adult population studies, completed since 1999, which measured vitamin D and compared vitamin D and death rates from COVID-19. The article can be viewed at: http://imj.ie/irish-medical-journal-may-2020-vol-113-no-5/
Vitamin D is produced in the skin from UVB sunlight exposure and is transported to the liver and then the kidney where it is changed into an active hormone that increases calcium transport from food in the gut and ensures calcium is adequate to keep the skeleton strong and free of osteoporosis.
But vitamin D can also support the immune system through a number of immune pathways involved in fighting SARS-CoV-2. Many recent studies confirm the pivotal role of vitamin D in viral infections.
This study shows that, counter intuitively, countries at lower latitude and typically sunny countries, such as Spain and Northern Italy, had low concentrations of vitamin D and high rates of vitamin D deficiency. These countries also experienced the highest infection and death rates in Europe.