COVID-19 Positivity is More Common Among Black American Women with Vitamin D Deficiency

Is vitamin D effective in protecting Black women from COVID-19? Yes, according to studies conducted by Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center. Low vitamin D levels were linked to an increased frequency of COVID-19 infection in a recent study of Black American women.

Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones because it aids the body’s absorption of calcium from food. Vitamin D insufficiency has long been linked to rickets, a condition in which bone tissue fails to mineralize effectively, resulting in soft bones and skeletal abnormalities. However, research is rapidly proving the relevance of vitamin D in preventing a variety of health conditions.

Despite its name, vitamin D is a prohormone, or a hormone precursor, rather than a vitamin. Vitamins are nutrients that the body cannot produce and must be obtained from the diet. Vitamin D, on the other hand, may be produced by the body.

Researchers from Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center examined vitamin D levels in women who had been tested for COVID-19 using data from the Black Women’s Health Study (BWHS), a prospective cohort study that began in 1995 and enrolled 59,000 black women aged 21 to 69 years by filling out health questionnaires.

Nearly one out of four people have vitamin D blood levels that are too low or inadequate for bone and overall health. Our study provides another reason why adequate levels of vitamin D are important the possibility of lowering risk of COVID-19 infection.

Yvette Cozier

These findings appear online in the journal PLOS ONE.

According to the study, Black American women with low vitamin D levels have a 69 percent higher risk of COVID-19 infection than women with adequate vitamin D levels. Women with obesity had the highest link between low serum vitamin D and a higher risk of infection, which is significant considering the higher incidence of obesity among Black women in comparison to other American women.

A few other studies have found an inverse relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19 infection, but they mostly involved White people or didn’t provide estimates based on race or BMI.

These findings, which are the first to show a link between blood vitamin D and COVID-19 infection in Black women, may assist to explain why Black women are overrepresented among COVID-19 infections, as this community is prone to vitamin D deficiency.

The study also found that a number of critical parameters linked to the likelihood of COVID-19 infection, such as the number of persons in the home, years of schooling, and the socioeconomic status of the residential neighborhood, were not responsible for the link.

Vitamin D insufficiency and obesity are known to increase the risk of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. COVID-19 has now been added to that list.

“Nearly one out of four people have vitamin D blood levels that are too low or inadequate for bone and overall health,” says lead author Yvette Cozier, DSc, associate professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health and an investigator on the Black Women’s Health Study at BU’s Slone Epidemiology Center.

“Our study provides another reason why adequate levels of vitamin D are important the possibility of lowering risk of COVID-19 infection.”

Clinical trials are under underway to see if vitamin D reduces the risk of COVID-19 or helps people with COVID-19 manage their symptoms, but the results are not yet accessible.

More research is needed to validate these findings and discover the appropriate level of vitamin D for COVID-19 protection.