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There is a link between COVID-19 deaths and vitamin D deficiency in Europe

There is a link between COVID-19 deaths and vitamin D deficiency in EuropeIt is mainly older people and those with chronic illnesses that are vulnerable to COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. Also, it’s a fact that lack of essential nutrients impairs your immune defense and may have serious health consequences, whether you are vaccinated or not. A large study of 19 European countries reveals that low blood levels of vitamin D increases the risk of complicated COVID-19 infections, hospitalization, and death. According to the scientists, it is necessary to discuss and optimize people’s vitamin D status to help them resist future pandemics.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most people were lucky and only suffered moderate symptoms, if any at all. It is mainly people in the ages 65 years and older with comorbidities such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic ailments that are vulnerable to complicated disease cases, hospitalization, and death. Also, younger populations like we have seen in Africa have fewer cases of COVID-19 and fewer deaths compared with older European populations.
In the middle of 2021, around 180 people were infected with COVID-19, and the majority were European. Malnutrition and lack of nutrients can increase the risk of COVID-19 infections, disease complications, and death. That is because the different vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are of vital importance to a well-functioning immune defense. There has been a lot of focus on vitamin D because of the widespread problems with deficiency – especially among older people and those living at northern latitudes, where it is only possible to synthesize vitamin D during the summer period.

Higher blood of vitamin D mean lower risk of COVID-19 and death

The purpose of the European study was to look closer at the relation between blood levels of vitamin D and the risk of dying of a COVID-19 infection. The scientists collected data from 19 European countries from March 1st, 2020 to June 14th, 2023 (“Our World in Data”). The information was included in a statistical analysis.
The 19 European countries were Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Holland, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia. However, Greece ended up being excluded from the study due to insufficient data for the analysis.
The study of the remaining 18 countries revealed that COVID-19-related mortality was significantly lower in countries where the average vitamin D levels in the blood were above 50 nmol/L compared to countries that have average vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L.
The researchers found a clear relation between blood levels of vitamin D and the risk of dying of COVID-19. The lower threshold for vitamin D levels in the blood is 50 nmol/L, while the optimal level is above 75 nmol/L.
The study is published in Nutrients. Here, the authors mention other studies that show a clear relation between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of dying of COVID-19, including a German study of 185 hospitalized patients.
Vitamin D deficiency is widespread among older people and vulnerable groups, which is because they get less sun exposure and have difficulty with synthesizing and activating vitamin D in the body. Also, many take different types of medicine (including cholesterol-lowering statins) that impair the body’s synthesis and utilization of vitamin D.

Vitamin D’s role in the immune defense and potentially dangerous comorbidities

In their study, the authors describe that vitamin D is important for the innate immune defense and different antibiotic peptides in the airways that protect the body against respiratory infections such as COVID-19. Vitamin D also regulates the inflammatory processes, which is a highly important function because complicated cases of COVID-19 are characterized by hyperinflammation, which can lead to a the potentially lethal condition known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). There is also a link between lack of vitamin D and comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which can increase the risk of COVID-19 becoming life-threatening. Having adequate levels of vitamin D in the blood helps to reduce the risk of these complicated disease cases, simply by protecting against comorbidities.
The authors behind the study call for additional studies that can demonstrate the effect of taking vitamin D supplements. It is important to use high-quality supplements and to use doses that are sufficiently large to optimize blood levels of vitamin D. It is also important to focus on the whole vitamin D topic in connection with future pandemics, the authors say.


Amar S. Ahmad et al. Association between Average Vitamin D Levels and COVID-19 Mortality in 19 European Countries – A Population-Based Study. Nutrients 2023

Intermountain Healthcare: New study finds current dosing recommendations may not help patients achieve optimal levels. EurekAlert. 2023

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