Vitamin D and COVID-19-Revisited.
Vitamin D, when activated to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, is a steroid hormone that induces responses in several hundred genes, including many involved in immune responses to infection. Without supplementation, people living in temperate zones commonly become deficient in the precursor form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D, during winter, as do people who receive less sunlight exposure or those with darker skin pigmentation. Studies performed pre-COVID-19 have shown significant but modest reduction in upper respiratory infections in people receiving regular daily vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D deficiency, like the risk of severe COVID-19, is linked with darker skin colour and also with obesity. Greater risk from COVID-19 has been associated with reduced ultraviolet exposure. Various studies have examined serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, either historical or current, in patients with COVID-19. The results of these studies have varied but the majority have shown an association between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of COVID-19 illness or severity. Interventional studies of vitamin D supplementation have so far been inconclusive. Trial protocols commonly allow control groups to receive low-dose supplementation that may be adequate for many. The effects of vitamin D supplementation on disease severity in patients with existing COVID-19 are further complicated by the frequent use of large bolus dose vitamin D to achieve rapid effects, even though this approach has been shown to be ineffective in other settings. As the pandemic passes into its third year, a substantial role of vitamin D deficiency in determining the risk from COVID-19 remains possible but unproven.