Initial research shows oral application of Vitamin D3 reduced COVID-19 ICU admission from 50% to 2%
There’s been no shortage of conversation about preventative measures, precautions, treatments and vaccines since COVID-19 landed in the UK at the start of 2020. And while it is important to remain cautious around the potential for any solution to the pandemic, the intense research into this disease and possible treatments has yielded some encouraging results. Vitamin D therapy trials have proven themselves to be among the most effective in supporting our overall immunity.
In fact, a recent study has presented the first clinical evidence for the use of vitamin D to treat COVID-19. Conducted by Spanish researchers, the study was published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on 29th August 2020.
The study, entitled “Effect of Calcifediol Treatment and best Available Therapy versus best Available Therapy on Intensive Care Unit Admission and Mortality Among Patients Hospitalised for COVID-19: A Pilot Randomised Clinical study”, is called a pilot because the sample size is small. However, the randomisation and prospective design still make it worthy research.
What did the study find?
During the study, researchers randomly allocated 76 cases of COVID-19 into oral calcifediol or no-calcifediol control groups (50 and 26 patients respectively) on the day of hospital admission. Oral calcifediol was given at a high dose (0.532mg) on the first day, and then at a half dose (0.266mg) on the third and seventh day, and then weekly until discharge or ICU admission.
To clarify, calcifediol is another name for vitamin D3: the main metabolite of vitamin D. All patients in the study also received the best available standard care at that time, which was hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin.
Both control groups had similar baseline characteristics in terms of sex, age, overall health and underlying conditions. The only difference was that the control group had a higher prevalence of hypertension (57.69%) than those receiving vitamin D3 (24.19%).
So what did the study find?
Results showed that 13 out of 26 patients – or 50% – in the control group were admitted to ICU, and two ultimately lost their lives. Comparatively, only one out of 50 – or 2% – of the patients receiving vitamin D3 required ICU admission, and there were no fatalities. This indicated a 93% reduction in the odds of needing ICU admission.
Factors to bear in mind
As with any scientific study, there are a number of factors to consider when looking at these results. Firstly, all patients received standard care, so it is unclear whether calcifediol alone would improve the outcome of a COVID-19 diagnosis. Also, calcifediol is a medical drug used to treat parathyroid problems, so it also cannot be assumed that normal vitamin D supplementation would achieve the same benefits.
The sample size involved in the study is also small, but this was something addressed by the British Medical Journal in a featured letter:
“Although this was a small trial, the ICU results are so dramatic that they are statistically highly significant.”
How does vitamin D3 help fight COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new and still relatively unknown medical condition which has had a devastating impact around the world in 2020. However, fresh information about the illness is constantly being discovered.
We now know that, from a mechanistic standpoint, both vitamin D3 and COVID-19 target similar physiological systems: namely the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and the immune system.
The RAS regulates blood pressure and fluid volume, and breaks down bradykinin. One leading theory about COVID-19 is that it kills by dysregulating the RAS via its interaction with the ACE2 receptor. This leads to a build up of bradykinin which can cause blood vessels to leak. As a consequence, fluid and immune cells can leak into the lungs, and the blood-brain barrier can be put at risk.
Vitamin D is one of few nutrients that regulates the RAS and prevents bradykinin accumulation. It also helps to keep inflammation levels down while supporting functions of B-cells and T-cells, both of which are essential in fighting infections. And vitamin D3 is particularly important to our health, especially when compared to vitamin D2. Research has shown that our bodies use and absorb vitamin D3 significantly more effectively.
As well as showing promising results from the study outlined above, vitamin D3 is approved by the European Food Standards Agency for supporting normal function of the immune system and bone and muscle function.
Where can you get vitamin D?
Vitamin D is, in theory, one of the most accessible vitamins as it can be gained simply via exposure to direct sunlight. However, through the winter months and particularly for people who work in doors or in cold climates, and as you get older, it can be important to seek vitamin D from other sources. Oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks all contain this crucial nutrient, but plant-based sources can be difficult to find. Doctor Seaweed’s new Weed & Wonderful® Immunity+ supplements address this issue, containing both vitamin D3 and vitamin B12. In fact, every natural and vegan capsule contains 200% of your RDA of vitamin .
When we handle these ingredients, we do so with minimal processing involved and in their natural form in order to preserve their original vitamin and mineral profiles and provide maximum support to your health and wellbeing.
Click here to find out more about Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful® Immunity+ seaweed capsules.