UAE study reveals correlation between vitamin D levels and severity of Covid-19 infection

People are most at risk of vitamin D deficiency in the summer when sweltering temperatures keep them indoors

Doctors recommend brief exposure to the sun to overcome vitamin D deficiency, but also advise people to wear sun cream. Silvia Razgova /The National
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Related: Are you getting enough sunshine? Signs you might have vitamin D deficiency

The severity of infection from Covid-19 is strongly linked to a patient's vitamin D levels, research found.

The study by Emirati researchers of 522 adult participants in the UAE, found a high correlation between insufficient vitamin D levels and the severity of Covid-19.

Fifty-nine per cent of patients with either mild or severe deficiency suffered harsher symptoms.

UAE residents are most at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency in the summer when sweltering temperatures prevent them from going outdoors.

The research was conducted by Dr Habiba Al Safar from Khalifa University Centre and Dr Fatme Al Anouti at Zayed University.

Dr Asma Al Mannaei, from the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, said the study "presents promising results to better understand the protective effect of vitamin D against Covid-19, both as a preventive tool against infection but also [for the role it] may play a role in boosting the immunity of patients during infection".

Previous studies found Covid-19 patients with sufficient levels of vitamin D had a decreased risk of adverse clinical reactions to coronavirus infection – including becoming unconscious and hypoxia (when the body is starved of oxygen).

The research team found that patients with vitamin D sufficiency had lower blood levels of an inflammatory marker (C-reactive protein) and higher blood levels of lymphocytes, a type of immune cell that helps fight infection.

“In addition to our ongoing efforts in combating Covid-19, scientific research remains a top priority for Abu Dhabi to enable easy and quick access to information, improve public education and ensure better capacity to deal with all of the challenges at hand," Dr Al Mannaei said.


Summer scenes in the UAE