Vitamin D and Covid-19

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While there were many experimental drugs and treatments that were studied and determined to not be effective against Covid-19, vitamin D is one that has actually stood out as a recommended supplemental measure for staying healthy during the pandemic, just as it is already recommended to be taken during winter months.  Studies on vitamin D and covid did not try to establish whether or not vitamin D was a treatment for the virus, rather they looked at what happens to people with higher and lower levels of vitamin D.

The studies are observational, and show that some groups of people are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency and to catch Covid-19 – the elderly, obese people, and people with darker skin.  Again, the link between the two has not been established, but researchers believe the vitamin D deficiency could be a reason why these groups are at higher risk, however there could be other health and environmental factors.  More data is needed, and ore studies correlating the two are already underway at Queen Mary University of London.

In a Spanish study coming from the University of Barcelona is saying vitamin D is resulting in an 80% reduction in intensive care admissions for Covid, and a 60% reduction in deaths.  The paper, with such lofty claims, was not properly peer reviewed and was withdrawn, and is currently being looked at by independent agencies.  Aurora Baluja, a critical care doctor in Spain, looked at the paper before it was withdrawn and said the “extreme” results were not replicated in a separate controlled trial and suggested there was likely bias. 

The problem starts when we start rapidly sharing misinformation like this, which tends to be shared more when it is labeled as “natural”.  Prof Sander Van der Linden, a social psychologist at the University of Cambridge explained that the online communities that focus on alternative medicine often overlap with anti-vaccination communities.  He says it is common to see things posted online in these communities like “you don’t need a vaccine, you can just take vitamin D”.  The danger, Van der Linden explains, is when people suggest taking vitamin D is a substitute for a vaccine.

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