The relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D), the surrogate marker for vitamin D3, serum concentration and COVID-19 has come to the forefront as a potential pathway to improve COVID-19 outcomes. The current evidence remains unclear on the impact of vitamin D status on the severity and outcomes of COVID-19 infection. To explore possible association between low 25(OH)D levels and risk of developing severe COVID-19 (i.e. need for invasive mechanical ventilation, the length of hospital stay, total deaths). We also aimed to understand the relationship between vitamin D insufficiency and elevated inflammatory and cardiac biomarkers.
We conducted a comprehensive electronic literature search for any original research study published up to March 30, 2021. For the purpose of this review, low vitamin D status was defined as a range of serum total 25(OH)D levels of <10 to <30 ng/ml. Two independent investigators assessed study eligibility, synthesized evidence, analyzed, critically examined, and interpreted herein.
Twenty-four observational studies containing 3637 participants were included in the meta-analysis. The mean age of the patients was 61.1 years old; 56% were male. Low vitamin D status was statistically associated with higher risk of death (RR, 1.60 (95% CI, 1.10–2.32), higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 pneumonia (RR: 1.50; 95% CI, 1.10–2.05). COVID-19 patients with low vitamin D levels had a greater prevalence of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, abnormally high serum troponin and peak D-dimer levels, as well as elevated interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein than those with serum 25(OH)D levels ≥30 ng/ml.
In this meta-analysis, we found a potential increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 infection among patients with low vitamin D levels. There are plausible biological mechanisms supporting the role of vitamin D in COVID-19 severity. Randomized controlled trials are needed to test for potential beneficial effects of vitamin D in COVID-19 outcomes.