Vitamin D can reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 as well as dying from the virus: this is according to a study recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, with which the association between the supplementation of the vitamin and the risks just mentioned was precisely evaluated. Using US veterans as a reference population, the researchers demonstrated that the use of vitamins D2 and D3 was linked to a reduction of infection as well as the number of dead individuals within 30 days of contracting the virus. A discovery of no small importance given that, as mentioned in the scientific work, “several studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of infection with Covid-19”, however up to now there has been no knew if indeed “vitamin D treatment” could “reduce the associated risk of infection with Covid-19”. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the study focused primarily on the impact of vitamin D on infections, while not neglecting, however, the aforementioned theme of reducing deaths.
Specifically, using a group of patients who had supplemented vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 before the pandemic (January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2020) and during it (March 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020), and comparing them with a group of individuals who did not undergo such treatment, it was found that patients who had taken vitamin D2 and D3 had a 28% and 20% reduction in the risk of infection, respectively by Covid-19 than the others. Coming instead to mortality within 30 days of infection, while the results obtained with vitamin D2 (-25%) were “statistically insignificant”, those relating to vitamin D3 were not, with the mortality that was “33% lower” thanks to its integration. Of course, these are data that should not be considered definitive as the study is characterized by some limitations, however there are good reasons to believe that the evidence that has emerged is not unfounded. In fact, the work recalls that mortality from Covid-19 was “defined as any death in the 30 days following the infection”, given that “the data from the death certificates were not available”: in any case, however, these are certainly not far-fetched results, being “probable that the mortality recorded shortly after the infection is strongly correlated with the actual mortality from Covid-19”.
Among the limitations of the research, then, there is the fact that relevant details in terms of infection and mortality, such as “socio-economic status and weight/obesity”, were not considered. However, reasonable concerns related to this can only be “mitigated by the significant associations between low serum levels of vitamin D and higher mean and cumulative dosages that gave better results”, which apparently would constitute a point in favor of the efficacy of vitamin D. In fact, “veterans who received higher dosages of vitamin D reaped greater benefits from supplementation compared to veterans who received lower doses” and the greatest decrease in infection following supplementation occurred precisely in “veteran with vitamin D blood levels between 0 and 19 ng/ml” (nanograms per millilitre), i.e. the lowest levels taken into consideration. In practice, therefore, patients in which the vitamin D deficiency is greater and who are then administered the same, enjoy more of its benefits than others, with an improvement that apparently shows in a tangible way the positive effects of integration .
It is no coincidence, therefore, if the study states that “as a safe, widely available and convenient treatment, vitamin D may help reduce the severity of the pandemic of Covid-19″. After all, according to scholars’ estimates, in 2020 in the United States there could have been “about 4 million fewer cases of Covid-19 and 116,000 deaths could have been avoided”. Numbers, the latter, which inevitably make one think of the policies implemented during the emergency period, in which there was no focus on the preventive effects of vitamin D, which, like other treatments, was belittled by the Italian media and institutions. The latter, in fact, have roughly limited themselves to recommending the use of paracetamol – or alternatively NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) – and the so-called “watchful waiting” for the home management of the virus, which today cannot fail to generate doubts and misgivings.
[di Raffaele De Luca]