What do the experts say?
In March, as coronavirus deaths began to rise in the United Kingdom, two hospitals in the North East of England began receiving vitamin D readings from patients and prescribing them with extremely high doses of nutrients. Studies have shown that having adequate levels of vitamin D, which is produced in the lower layers of the skin through the absorption of sunlight, plays a central role in immune and metabolic function and reduces the risk of certain respiratory diseases acquired by the community. But the conclusions were challenged and there were no official instructions.
The decision was considered unusual when endocrinology and respiratory units at the NHS made an informal recommendation to his clinicians to prescribe vitamin D. “Our view was that this treatment is so safe and the crisis is so great that we do not have time to talk,” said Dr Richard Quinton, an endocrinologist at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Clinicians and endocrinologists around the world soon began to disagree about whether adequate levels of vitamin D could positively affect coronavirus-related mortality rates. Some thought that the nutrient was an effective treatment hidden before us, others saw it as a waste of time. In March, government scientific advisers reviewed the available data and decided that there was not enough action. But in April, dozens of doctors wrote in the British Medical Journal, describing correcting vitamin D deficiencies as “a safe, simple step” that “convincingly maintains a possible, significant, feasible Covid-19 mitigation treatment.”
In Newcastle hospitals, patients who were found to have vitamin D deficiency were given extremely high oral doses of the nutrient, often up to 750 times the daily recommended by Public Health in England. In July, doctors wrote in the journal Clinical Endocrinology to share their initial results. Of the first 134 patients with vitamin D coronavirus, 94 were discharged, 24 were still receiving care and 16 had died. Clinicians had not clearly correlated vitamin D levels with overall death rates, but only three patients with high nutrient levels died and all were weak and close to 90.
A number of other studies have made similar reports, although only one is a Spanish study conducted in early September that almost unequivocally came close to proving that low levels of vitamin D play a key role in causing increased death rates. There, 50 patients with Covid-19 were given a high dose of vitamin D, while another 26 patients did not receive the nutrient. Half of the patients who did not receive vitamin D had to be treated intensively and two of them later died. Only one patient receiving vitamin D required admission and was later discharged without further complications.
After all, is the secret to getting sick from vitamin D?