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Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays key roles in several physiological processes, including immune function. Research indicates that people who take supplemental vitamin D are less likely to have acute respiratory tract infections. Findings from a new study suggest that regular use of supplemental vitamin D reduces the risk of developing COVID-19.
Vitamin D deficiency in the setting of COVID-19 can lead to over-expression of renin (an enzyme produced in the kidneys) and subsequent activation of the renin-angiotensin-system, a critical regulator of blood pressure, inflammation, and body fluid homeostasis. Disturbances in this system can drive poor outcomes in COVID-19.
The study involved nearly 8,300 adults enrolled in the UK Biobank study who had been tested for COVID-19. The investigators collected information about the participants' demographics and health status, use of vitamin D supplements (as well as other vitamins), and circulating vitamin D levels.
The authors found that people who took vitamin D regularly (daily or weekly) tended to be older, have better overall health, and to take other supplements. They also had higher levels of circulating vitamin D. Notably, they were 34 percent less likely to develop COVID-19 compared to people who did not take vitamin D.
Although this was an observational study and causation cannot be established, these findings suggest that regular vitamin D supplementation is beneficial in reducing the risk of developing COVID-19. The authors posited that the protective effects of vitamin D are attributable to the vitamin’s capacity to maintain cell junctions to reduce the risk of infection; enhance cellular innate immunity; or modulate the renin-angiotensin-system.
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