This Vitamin Deficiency Makes Your COVID Risk Soar 80 Percent, Study Says

Evidence shows that your likelihood of testing positive for the virus skyrockets without this nutrient.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, medical experts have been warning against certain unhealthy habits and promoting beneficial ones to help lower your risk of contracting a severe case of COVID. And while some tips—like putting down your cigarettes or vape pen—might be obvious, other suggestions are less apparent and were slower to come to light. One such discovery comes from a recent study, which found that having a vitamin D deficiency increases your risk of contracting COVID—in fact, it makes you nearly 80 percent more likely to test positive for the virus.

The study, which was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 489 patients at the University of Chicago who were tested for coronavirus between March and April. The results found that, of the 60 percent of patients with adequate vitamin D levels, only 12 percent ended up being infected. However, among the 25 percent of patients with a vitamin D deficiency, 22 percent tested positive, which means they were 1.77 more likely to have COVID (or 77 percent).

Vitamin D Supplements

The findings add to a growing list of research that has found vitamin D to be beneficial in the fight against COVID. "Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections," study author David O. Meltzer, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said in a statement. "Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection."

The new study also comes on the heels of other recently released research on the effects of vitamin D in the body's fight against someone already infected with COVID. The results of that study, published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, found that patients treated with a high dose of vitamin D were significantly less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit or to be intubated.

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Meltzer was also quick to point out that the findings of his study shouldn't be used as a reason to forego basic safety guidelines, such as wearing a face mask and social distancing. "If someone takes vitamin D and then goes to a party thinking they're not going to get COVID, they've made a mistake," Meltzer told The Chicago Tribune. "This is not a substitute for avoiding exposure."

So where can you get your daily fix of this helpful nutrient? "There are some dietary sources of vitamin D, including fatty fishes such as salmon, eggs, mushrooms, and fortified foods, including most milk and dairy products," Meltzer told UPI. "But it is not easy to get the levels one would get from supplements from these dietary sources alone."

Still, he recommends consulting your doctor before beginning supplements if you have health conditions or are on medication to avoid overloading your system. And for more on how your diet can help protect you from coronavirus, check out Eating More of This Could Help Protect You From Coronavirus.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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