New research presented at the 25th European Congress of Endocrinology in Istanbul suggests a potential connection between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of developing long COVID. The study, conducted by researchers from the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, sheds light on the potential role of vitamin D supplementation in mitigating the risk of this persistent post-COVID condition.
Long COVID, also known as post-COVID-19 syndrome, is a condition characterized by the continuation of COVID-19 symptoms beyond the typical 12-week recovery period. Previous studies have indicated that 50-70% of patients previously hospitalized for COVID-19 experience long COVID, yet little is known about the condition or effective treatment options.
The new study examined 100 patients aged 51-70 years who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 but did not require intensive care treatment. The researchers measured the patients’ vitamin D levels upon admission to the hospital and then six months after their discharge. They found that individuals with long COVID had significantly lower vitamin D levels compared to those who did not develop the condition.
What are the Symptoms?
The link between low vitamin D levels and long COVID was particularly pronounced in patients experiencing symptoms commonly referred to as “brain fog.” These symptoms include confusion, forgetfulness, and poor concentration, which can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life.
Vitamin D and Long COVID: A Case Report (Coronavirus Update 146)
More Research Needed
Lead investigator Professor Andrea Giustina explains, “Previous studies on the role of vitamin D in COVID were not conclusive mainly due to many confounding factors. The highly-controlled nature of our study helps us better understand the role of vitamin D deficiency in long COVID, and establish that there is likely a link between vitamin D deficiency and COVID.”
While the findings of this study are promising, Professor Giustina emphasizes the need for larger studies to confirm the observed link between low vitamin D levels and long COVID. However, he and his team are now focused on investigating whether vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk of long COVID and improve its symptoms.
“Our study shows that COVID-19 patients with low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop COVID, but it is not yet known whether vitamin D supplements could improve the symptoms or reduce this risk altogether,” Professor Giustina adds.