Vitamin D is seeing its moment in the sun, thanks to studies finding a correlation between deficiency levels and worse COVID-19 outcomes and elevated blood levels in which hardly anybody dies.
Congress just stepped into the act, with U.S. Rep Glenn Grothman (R-WI) introducing a House resolution (HR 116) that recognizes the potential role vitamin D may play in decreasing the severity of COVID-19.
The resolution calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to update existing guidance and to issue new guidance that encourages vitamin D intake during the COVID–19 pandemic, in particular for the elderly and immunocompromised individuals.
“As much of the public continues to wait for access to available vaccines,” said Rep. Grothman, “it’s critical that the House of Representatives is united in finding additional ways to limit the negative effects of the virus and provide the public with more information about how effective vitamin D can be in preventing serious COVID-19 symptoms.”
The resolution asserts “clear scientific evidence” that vitamin D reduces COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths—and that more than 40% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, including upwards of 80% among Black and Latinx populations.
It notes that there are currently more than 30 active clinical trials and 13 completed human clinicals of 2,700 participants investigating vitamin D’s role with COVID-19 patients. It also notes that public health agencies across the U.K. are encouraging vitamin D use, including a program to distribute vitamin D supplements to 2.5 million at-risk people like those in long-term care facilities and those with pre-existing co-morbidities such as those with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
It is estimated that there may be 100 million such individuals in America with high-risk co-morbidities that lead to worse COVID-19 outcomes.
Some have even asserted that a vitamin D deficiency (<10 ng/dl blood levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D) counts as another COVID-19 co-morbidity.
“Vitamin D can help limit the negative effects of COVID-19,” said Julia Gustafson, vice president, government relations for trade group the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN). “This essential nutrient is critical to overall health at all life stages. CRN joins Congressman Grothman in urging public health establishments to issue guidance about the benefits of vitamin D supplementation and the role it may play in reducing the risk of serious COVID-19 symptoms and complications.”
In September 2020, CRN formed a Vitamin D Study Task Force to develop and evaluate scientific content for a forthcoming consumer education program. The initiative will feature consumer-friendly content, such as research summaries, podcast and articles to provide more education on the topic of vitamin D and COVID-19.