Reasons to avoid vitamin D deficiency during COVID-19 pandemic


Arch. Endocrinol. Metab.




ABSTRACT The effects of vitamin D on the musculoskeletal system are well established. Its deficiency causes osteomalacia, secondary hyperparathyroidism, and an increased risk for fractures and falls. However, clinical and experimental evidence points to extra-skeletal actions of vitamin D, including on immune and respiratory systems. Thus, during this COVID-19 pandemic, a possible deleterious role of vitamin D deficiency has been questioned. This paper aims to present a brief review of the literature and discuss, based on evidence, the role of vitamin D in the lung function and in the prevention of respiratory infections. Relevant articles were searched in the databases MEDLINE/PubMed and SciELO/LILACS. The mechanisms of vitamin D action in the immune system response will be discussed. Clinical data from systematic reviews and meta-analyses show benefits in the prevention of respiratory infections and improvement of pulmonary function when vitamin D-deficient patients are supplemented. At the time of writing this paper, no published data on vitamin D supplementation for patients with COVID-19 have been found. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended during this period of social isolation to avoid any deficiency, especially in the context of bone outcomes, aiming to achieve normal values of 25(OH)D. The prevention of respiratory infections and improvement of pulmonary function are additional benefits observed when vitamin D deficiency is treated. Thus far, any protective effect of vitamin D specifically against severe COVID-19 remains unclear. We also emphasize avoiding bolus or extremely high doses of vitamin D, which can increase the risk of intoxication without evidence of benefits.

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