Aging Clin Exp Res. 2021 Jun 12. doi: 10.1007/s40520-021-01894-z. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: The rapid global spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has re-ignited interest in the possible role of vitamin D in modulation of host responses to respiratory pathogens. Indeed, vitamin D supplementation has been proposed as a potential preventative or therapeutic strategy. Recommendations for any intervention, particularly in the context of a potentially fatal pandemic infection, should be strictly based on clinically informed appraisal of the evidence base. In this narrative review, we examine current evidence relating to vitamin D and COVID-19 and consider the most appropriate practical recommendations.
OBSERVATIONS: Although there are a growing number of studies investigating the links between vitamin D and COVID-19, they are mostly small and observational with high risk of bias, residual confounding, and reverse causality. Extrapolation of molecular actions of 1,25(OH)2-vitamin D to an effect of increased 25(OH)-vitamin D as a result of vitamin D supplementation is generally unfounded, as is the automatic conclusion of causal mechanisms from observational studies linking low 25(OH)-vitamin D to incident disease. Efficacy is ideally demonstrated in the context of adequately powered randomised intervention studies, although such approaches may not always be feasible.
CONCLUSIONS: At present, evidence to support vitamin D supplementation for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 is inconclusive. In the absence of any further compelling data, adherence to existing national guidance on vitamin D supplementation to prevent vitamin D deficiency, predicated principally on maintaining musculoskeletal health, appears appropriate.