A scientific research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism brought new answers on Tuesday (10/27) about the role of vitamin D in illness by covid-19.
The results show that low levels of vitamin D – which, despite its name, is a hormone – were more frequent in a group of 216 patients hospitalized with the new disease in a hospital in Spain compared to 197 people outside the hospital, without registration disease.
More precisely, vitamin D deficiency was found among 82.2% of hospitalized people, against 47.2% in the group called “control” – used for comparison.
Considering only the universe of hospitalized people, those with low levels of vitamin D showed a higher percentage of hospitalization in Intensive Care Units (ICU) than people with satisfactory levels of vitamin D (≥20 ng / ml): 26.6% versus 12.8%. The time in the hospital was also longer, 12 days versus 8 days.
However, in relation to covid-19 mortality, the difference was not significant – which may have to do with limitations in the data or methods of this particular research.
The study authors, members of the University of Cantabria and the Marqués de Valdecilla Hospital in Santander, Spain, warn that they managed to demonstrate an association between the presence of vitamin D and covid-19, but not a causality. That is, it is not possible to make claims that vitamin D deficiency leads to illness or that vitamin D reinforcement can protect against the disease.
A consideration in this regard presented by the study is that lower levels of vitamin D already tend to be more frequently found in the elderly and people with chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer – which in turn are also risk factors for covid-19 .
In the study, those hospitalized with covid-19 and with low levels of vitamin D were just more likely to also have chronic diseases.
“Therefore, vitamin D levels should be interpreted with caution, since the population at risk of severe Sars-CoV-2 (virus) infection is probably the same at risk for vitamin D deficiency,” says the article .
This deficiency is considered common in Brazil and in the world, for reasons still under study. Vitamin D already present in our body is activated when exposed to the sun, but it can also be acquired through food. There is still the possibility of supplementation, but medical associations only recommend this for people with specific conditions – elderly people over 60; pregnant and lactating women; people with osteoporosis; people with so-called osteometabolic diseases, such as rickets; among others.
Low levels of the hormone have already been linked to other viral diseases, such as influenza, HIV and hepatitis C, so this association is in full study in the scientific field. Researchers around the world are also looking to understand the role of vitamin D in the immune system, as hormone receptors are found in defense cells.
For the Spanish team, the results of the study published on Tuesday indicate that boosting vitamin D may be important for groups at risk – such as elderly people vulnerable to fractures, osteoporosis and muscle loss.
On the other hand, the authors point out that the results of the study are limited to one hospital – Marqués de Valdecilla – and cannot be generalized to other countries, contexts and ethnic groups.
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