As researchers around the world drill down into the mysteries of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, new and intriguing discoveries are emerging. One recent study has found an unexpected connection: Patients with low levels of vitamin D, particularly African Americans, were significantly more likely to have tested positive for COVID-19.
Starting with the premise that vitamin D deficiency is a key factor in oral health and immune system problems, University of Florida researchers analyzed data from nearly 980,000 UF Health patients for connections to COVID-19. The receptor that acts as a host to the virus, allowing it to enter and infect human cells, is abundant not only in the lungs and other major organs, but also in the mouth and oral tissues.
Their findings, published in the journal Nutrition, were that patients deficient in vitamin D were four times more likely to be COVID-19 positive. Black patients were found to be three times more likely to be COVID-19 positive if they had insufficient levels of D3, the most important compound of this nutrient.
A variety of reasons contribute to this population being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus and a vitamin D deficiency, including skin pigmentation, which affects the natural production of this vitamin.
The next step is for nutrition experts and others to study whether vitamin D supplementation can help prevent or treat COVID-19.
Previous research has shown other health benefits of vitamin D, such as stronger muscles, bones and teeth. You can help maintain your levels by eating more salmon, sardines, egg yolks and mushrooms – all of which are good sources of D3.