Does Vitamin D really help in combating Kovid-19?


If you can count on this epidemic for one thing, it is this: at least once a month there will be a new article in the media arguing that vitamin D helps prevent Kovid-19.

The matter is simple: we know vitamin D – “sunshine vitamin” – Is it involved in immune function, so it can help us fight the virus?

Some, such as Labor MP Rupa Hook, are very pretty to answer. He wrote on Tuesday (January 12) An article in Evening Standard Where he described vitamin D as “Wonderstuff” that “we hope to seal this dangerous disease”. She wrote that its benefits are “hushed up” – perhaps, she suggested, because inexpensive vitamin pills cannot be monetized by Big Pharma, and are less glamorous than a vaccine.

A few days after the publication of one, Haq’s article appeared Observer The piece described that he and David Davis, Conservative MPs, had become absent allies on the subject in what they see as the UK’s vitamin D deficiency. Haque and Davis are disappointed that bodies such as Public Health England say there is insufficient evidence to promote the vitamin, which Davis argues could “potentially save thousands of lives” during the epidemic.

Why the Tax Do experts disagree with Haq and Davis? What is the evidence on Vitamin D and Kovid-19? You might think that after studying for almost a year, we would get a very good idea of ​​the answer. away with.

Most research of Kovid-19 / Vitamin D takes place in the form of supervisory studies – where researchers look at the correlation of blood Vitamin D levels with risk of Kovid-19, or disease severity. So far, there have been few such studies, and researchers have done a meta-analysis to pool all the data and try to draw broad conclusions.

If you skim only those meta-analyzes, the case may seem optimistic. One A meta-analysis found that, although vitamin D was not associated with a risk of receiving covid-19, the reduction was more likely in severe cases. Another found that a high vitamin D level is sometimes associated with a lower risk of infection and hospitalization, depending on how you measure it. Lower levels of vitamin D were found to be third in Kovid-19 patients compared to those without the disease.

[See also: Stuart Ritchie on the “three Cs” key to preventing the spread of coronavirus]

Exciting, isn’t it? Not necessary. Most research is Low quality, with small samples and dubious analysis. More importantly, research from the observatory shows what epidemiologists call “confusion”. For example, if older people, or people with darker skin, are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, and they are at risk of severe Kovid-19 for other reasons, then such study added fault and deficiency can go. – Even if there is no reason for each other.

What we need is randomized trials, where researchers give Vitamin D or a placebo to Kovid-19 patients and test whether the vitamin is Causes a better result. Surprisingly, only two exist to date. The first was a Spanish study which found that Kovid-19 patients are given a type of vitamin D supplement that tends to improve. Aforesaid Observer The article noted that the study “came close to proving inconsistently that low vitamin D levels play a key role in increasing mortality”. This is dramatically far from reality: it was a pilot study with only 76 participants, and some obvious Flaws In its design.

The other is bigger Studies from Brazil, which quite clearly found no benefit of vitamin D supplementation for severe Kovid patients. It has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but it is not strangely mentioned by supporters of Vitamin D.

You might be thinking: What is the downside? Vitamin D is cheaper. We are all staying indoors during lockdown and therefore getting less sunlight. Even if vitamin D does not help in combating Kovid-19, surely it is good to take supplements anyway? But this motte-and-bailey argument – where someone makes a very specific, controversial claim, that claim is attacked and they retreat to a much more general – but more defensive – position. We were not talking Mango Benefits of Vitamin D – We were talking about the benefits of Kovid-19. And the honest answer at this point is that science has failed to give us any clarity: we simply do not know what its effect is.

And there are doing Downsides. Kovid-19 is a newer, more transferable version, and we as people need to be extremely careful not to catch it. Promoting the idea that there is a simple, dramatically effective solution – “Wonderstuff”! – Which enhances our immune system and prevents disease so that people can be easily understood in the false sense of security: “I have taken my vitamin D capsule, so maybe I can today without wearing a mask.”

Several More tests of Vitamin D and Kovid-19 are on the way, so we’ll get a more definitive answer soon. Until then, let’s leave overblown claims about near-magical substances and sinister conspiracies. This may sound unsatisfactory but, as with many parts of the coronovirus debate, the only sensible scientific view on vitamin D is one of uncertainty.

[See also: Stuart Ritchie on Covid-19 and the problem of anti-vaxxers]

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