KANNAPOLIS — Research from the University of North Carolina Nutrition Research Institute shows a vitamin D deficiency has been shown to contribute to the seasonal increase of viral respiratory infections and possibly COVID-19.
In a study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, by Martin Kohlmeier, MD, PHD, Director of the UNC Nutrition Research Institute at the NC Research Institute in Kannapolis, it was found vitamin D deficiency impedes good immune function.
Those who are immunocompromised have been found to be more at risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
“Rigorously remedying vitamin D deficiency, even for a few months during these seasons, would help reverse known health impacts that include decreased life expectancy and increased mortality,” Kohlmeier wrote. “Slowing the spread of COVID-19 would be an important bonus.”
The article found that a number of factors make it more likely individuals are deficient in vitamin D: old age, obesity, dark skin tone, and common genetic variants.
COVID-19 has been found to be particularly dangerous to the older population as well as African Americans, both of which are in the demographics of those with a vitamin D deficiency, according to Kohlmeier’s study.
According to a separate report from the CDC on the morbidity and mortality rate of those who have contracted COVID-19, “current data suggest(s) a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups.”
“A recent CDC MMWR report included race and ethnicity data from 580 patients hospitalized with lab-confirmed COVID-19 found that 45 percent of individuals for whom race or ethnicity data was available were white, compared to 55 percent of individuals in the surrounding community,” the report read. “However, 33 percent of hospitalized patients were black compared to 18 percent in the community and 8 percent were Hispanic, compared to 14 percent in the community. (This) data suggest(s) an overrepresentation of blacks among hospitalized patients.”
The study also found that in New York City — the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic — research found the death rate among the African American population to be 92.3 per 100,000 in population, 74.3 in hispanic/latino population and 45.2 in the white population.
Studies are still underway to confirm this data.
According to UNC’s data, there is a greater disparity in deaths in the African American population due to the COVID-19 pandemic in northern states.
“It is conceivable that vitamin D adequacy in locations where sunlight is stronger denies the virus easy footholds and thereby slows spreading of the contagion,” the report reads. “This finding should drive home the message that vitamin D supplementation is particularly important for African Americans and others with a dark skin tone.”
The study came to conclude in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic that a “renewed attention to the high prevalence of severe vitamin D deficiency is in order.”
It goes on to say that those in the high-risk category for the virus — particularly in combination — are “alarm signs that should prompt corrective action.”
Corrective action in this case would be an individually tailored dose of vitamin D. These doses should not be exaggerated but administered within the recommended ranges.
“Preventing vitamin D deficiency should be a widely shared goal,” the report concludes.
North Carolina will move into Phase 2 of its reopening plan Friday at 5 p.m.
The state currently has 20,122 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 702 deaths and 554 people currently hospitalized, according to the NCDHHS. These numbers are updated at 11 a.m. daily.
In Cabarrus County, there have been 417 confirmed positive cases including 22 confirmed deaths with 269 recovered. One hundred twenty six cases remain active.