Mounting evidence shows that vitamin D deficiency is predicative of severe covid-19. Hundreds of doctors from around the world have called for vitamin D education and distribution, especially for at-risk demographics of people. The Trinity College in Dublin and the University of Edinburgh conducted research on vitamin D levels from sunlight and studied its effect against covid-19. Approximately 500,000 individuals from the United Kingdom were involved in a UVB-predicted vitamin D study, measuring the effect of vitamin D levels against severe covid-19 disease and death.
Ambient ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is the precursor for vitamin D production within the skin. Most studies on vitamin D focus on vitamin D supplementation and its effect on covid-19 outcomes. This study investigated the role of daily sunshine exposure, because this is the purest, most important source of vitamin D. In the study, individuals with regular UVB exposure in their daily lives had a stronger immune response that protected them against severe respiratory disease and death.
Landmark vitamin D study shines light on how routine sunlight exposure improves covid-19 outcomes
First, the researchers compared two variables that determine circulating vitamin D levels – UVB-predicted vitamin D level and genetically-predicted vitamin D level. The researchers investigated over one hundred genes to make a determination. Then, the circulating vitamin D level was configured for each individual preceding their covid-19 infection.
Confounding variables such as obesity, old age, and underlying respiratory issues often distort observational vitamin D studies. For this study, the researchers were able to calculate “genetically-predicted” vitamin D level, which is not confounded by other demographics, old age or lifestyle factors. The researchers collected information from one hundred genes that determine vitamin D status, to give a more accurate analysis of its effect. Also, the ambient UVB radiation level was assessed per individual.
The researchers found that UVB-predicted vitamin D levels are three times stronger than genetically-predicted vitamin D levels. As ambient UVB radiation levels increase at an individual’s place of residence, they are much more likely to prevent hospitalization and death.
“Our study adds further evidence that vitamin D might protect against severe COVID-19 infection. Conducting a properly designed COVID-19 randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation is critical,” said lead researcher Professor Lina Zgaga, Associate Professor in Epidemiology, School of Medicine, Trinity College. “Until then, given that vitamin D supplements are safe and cheap, it is definitely advisable to take supplements and protect against vitamin D deficiency, particularly with winter on the horizon.”
Public health advice has suppressed populations, discouraged vitamin D, putting millions at risk of severe disease and death