Food and Behaviour Research

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The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality

Ilie PC, Stefanescu S, Smith L. (2020) Aging Clin Exp Res. 2020   May 6. doi: 10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8. [Epub ahead of print] 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts via PubMed here. Free full text of this article is available online


WHO declared SARS-CoV-2 a global pandemic. The present aim was to propose an hypothesis that there is a potential association between mean levels of vitamin D in various countries with cases and mortality caused by COVID-19.

The mean levels of 
vitamin D for 20 European countries and morbidity and mortality caused by COVID-19 were acquired.

Negative correlations between mean levels of 
vitamin D (average 56 mmol/L, STDEV 10.61) in each country and the number of COVID-19 cases/1 M (mean 295.95, STDEV 298.7, and mortality/1 M (mean 5.96, STDEV 15.13) were observed. 

Vitamin D levels are severely low in the aging population especially in Spain, Italy and Switzerland. This is also the most vulnerable group of the population in relation to COVID-19.

It should be advisable to perform dedicated studies about 
vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients with different degrees of disease severity.


This research group has already made available a free report on Vitamin D and Immunity, documenting the very low levels of Vitamin D in the Irish population, particularly in older adults, who are by far the most vulnerable to severe forms of both influenza and COVID-19.

Studies have long shown that Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is extremely common in the UK - particularly in many of the population sub-groups who appear to be most vulnerable to COVID-19 - including not just older adults, but also people with obesity, learning disabilities and/or darker skin.

Very few foods contain Vitamin D, so adequate levels can only be achieved via sufficient exposure to bright sunlight on the skin (and in the UK, none can be made this way during the winter months), or by supplementation. 

There is therefore already a good case for public health authorities to do more to ensure adequate Vitamin D status purely for general health.

However, more research will be needed to find out whether this may also offer significant protection against severe illness or death following infection by COVID-19, as the authors of this article emphasise.

See the associated news article here:

And for more information on the fundamental importance of Vitamin D for both brain and body health, see: