Alex Tanner, Divya Tiwari and Stephen Allen* Pages 93 - 101 ( 9 )
Background: The recently identified SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has resulted in the Covid-19 pandemic with severe morbidity and high mortality, particularly in certain sections of the population. The co-morbidity patterns associated with adverse outcomes are multiple and complex and there is emerging epidemiological, nutritional and molecular biological evidence that an inadequate vitamin D status is a contributing factor.
Objective: The aim was to review the role of vitamin D in immune function with particular reference to the mechanisms whereby it supports immune efficiency, host protection and immune modulation. The evidence for the possible benefit of vitamin D supplementation to ameliorate the severity of respiratory infection by SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens was also reviewed with a view to making a recommendation.
Methods: PubMed, MEDLINE and Google Scholar were searched using the terms: Covid-19, coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, vitamin D, calcitriol, deficiency, adaptive immunity, innate immunity, ventilation, critical care, intensive care, acute respiratory distress syndrome, cytokine storm, respiratory viruses, respiratory tract infection, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, supplementation. Papers for inclusion were selected on the basis of relevance and quality.
Findings: Vitamin D insufficiency is widespread in many parts of the world. Vitamin D is needed for normal protective and surveillance immune function and there is evidence that deficiency increases the risk of some respiratory infections, probably including Covid-19. By binding with dedicated receptors on immune cells vitamin D influences several strands of immune function, including the production of anti-microbial peptides and several cytokines that promote an appropriate immune response. Vitamin D supplementation probably reduces the risk of respiratory infection, with persuasive biological, epidemiological and observational evidence for possible benefit against Covid-19.
Conclusion: Despite the lack of direct evidence specific to Covid-19 a cogent theoretical case can be made for giving adults from selected groups, and arguably all adults, routine supplementation with vitamin D to improve immune efficiency and reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory infections. This could be particularly important in sections of the population with a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency. Targeted research is required to provide firm evidence to guide practice.
Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, immune function, innate immunity, adaptive immunity, vitamin D.
The Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Dorset, The Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Dorset, The Royal Bournemouth Hospital, Dorset