Vitamin D

Updated: Oct 15, 2020

It's time to take the link between Vitamin D deficiency and more serious Covid-19 symptoms seriously, says Matt Ridley in The Telegraph.

A suggestive set of numbers was published online in April by a medical scientist in the Philippines, Dr Mark Alipio. Of 49 patients with mild symptoms of Covid-19 in three hospitals in southern Asian countries, only two had low levels of vitamin D; of 104 patients with critical or severe symptoms, only four did not have low levels of vitamin D.

The more severe the symptoms, the more likely a patient was to be not just low but deficient in the vitamin.

Could vitamin D deficiency make the difference between getting very ill or not? If you read the OGN Daily article on April 19 you are probably sorted on the Vitamin D front. If not, read on...

There has long been evidence that a sufficiency of vitamin D protects against viruses, especially respiratory ones, including the common cold. Vitamin D increases the production of antiviral proteins and decreases cytokines, the immune molecules that can cause a “storm” of dangerous inflammation. It has long been suspected that most people’s low vitamin D levels in late winter partly explain the seasonal peaking of flu epidemics, and rising vitamin D levels in spring partly explain their sudden ending. Vitamin D is made by ultraviolet light falling on the skin, so many people in northern climates have a deficiency by the end of winter. Eating fish and eggs helps, but it is hard to get enough of it in the diet.

Here is a list of people who are more likely to be vitamin D deficient than the average:

  • Dark-skinned people (pigment blocks sunlight);

  • Obese people (the vitamin gets sequestered in fat cells);

  • Type-2 diabetics (vitamin D improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin);

  • The elderly (they tend to avoid the sun and eat more frugally);

  • City dwellers (they see less sunlight).

Does that list ring any bells? All appear to be more likely to hospitalised with severe cases of Covid-19. 

Might it not be a good idea to tell everybody to take vitamin D supplements at this time, just in case it helps? In a letter to the British Medical Journal last week urging attention to Dr Alipio’s results, a long list of doctors wrote as follows: “Vitamin D biology is a mature well-researched field, dating back 100 years. Doses, and risks, within clinical parameters, are established and well quantified. Governmental intake guidance exists. Vitamin D deficiency is a medically accepted condition, requiring treatment.”

And for goodness sake, will somebody please tell the police to stop harassing sunbathers in parks?

UK residents can order Vitamin D supplements online from, for example, Holland & Barrett or Boots