No evidence vitamin D affects COVID severity in people of European ancestry

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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has seen a wide variety of untested off-the-shelf COVID treatments suggested.

Amongst these suggestions though, it’s vitamin D that has gained the most column inches in recent weeks, with a number of prominent MPs currently campaigning for its wider use.

But in a new study, researchers found there to be no evidence that a person’s vitamin D levels affect how severely they suffer from contracting COVID-19.

The research was conducted by a team at Brunel University London.

Vitamin D is created naturally by the body using sunlight and is particularly important for bone health.

Whilst some previous studies have suggested a link between vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 mortality rates, the NHS currently stops short of recommending it as a treatment against the disease.

In the study, the team analyzed data from the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative and the UK Biobank.

They set out to determine whether an individual’s genetic predisposition for high or low levels of vitamin D had an effect on how badly they suffered the effects of COVID-19.

The scientists identify the genes associated with vitamin D—some people are predisposed to lower levels, whilst others naturally have higher levels—and then investigate whether those two groups are affected by COVID differently.

The study only covers people of European ancestry due to the datasets that were available to the researchers.

The study of genetics can be very highly skewed towards people from European ancestry as the data used is most frequently collected from Europeans or Americans of European descent.

The team is keen to stress though that they don’t seek to discourage people from taking vitamin D supplements, which can have other positive health effects.

But if they do choose to take vitamin D, there is no evidence it’ll protect them from COVID 19 and they should keep following existing guidance to stay safe.

One author of the study is Dr. Fotios Drenos, a senior lecturer in genetic epidemiology at Brunel.

The study is published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health.

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