A Northwestern University-led research team looked at COVID-19 cases from hospitals and clinics across China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They discovered a strong correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and mortality rates from the deadly COVID-19 contagion. That’s right, vitamin D could save your life.
Patients from Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom that had high COVID-19 mortality rates had lower levels of vitamin D compared to patients in countries that were not as severely affected. The study found a strong correlation between vitamin D levels and something called “cytokine storm.”
Some clinicians suspect the driving force in many gravely ill patients’ downhill trajectories is a disastrous overreaction of the immune system known as a “cytokine storm,” which other viral infections are known to trigger. Cytokines are chemical signaling molecules that guide a healthy immune response; but in a cytokine storm, levels of certain cytokines soar far beyond what’s needed, and immune cells start to attack healthy tissues. Blood vessels leak, blood pressure drops, clots form, and catastrophic organ failure can ensue.
The research notes that the data on Vitamin D levels was not readily available for COVID-19 patients they considered, but that they “leveraged the previously established links between Vitamin D and C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and between CRP and severe COVID-19, respectively, to estimate the potential impact of Vitamin D on the reduction of severe COVID-19.”
“Cytokine storm can severely damage lungs and lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and death in patients,” Ali Daneshkhah, a postdoctoral research associate at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, said in a statement. “This is what seems to kill a majority of COVID-19 patients, not the destruction of the lungs by the virus itself. It is the complications from the misdirected fire from the immune system.”
While the study is not yet peer-reviewed, there is such global eagerness for any relevant data on the global pandemic, these findings are already being looked at as yet another critical piece in the COVID-19 puzzle that has remained unsolved by medical and public health risk experts alike.