The role of vitamin D deficiency on COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies

Epidemiol Health. 2021:43:e2021074. doi: 10.4178/epih.e2021074. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Objectives: Although vaccination has started, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) poses a continuing threat to public health. Therefore, in addition to vaccination, the use of supplements to support the immune system may be important. The purpose of this study was to synthesize evidence on the possible effect of low serum vitamin D levels (25[OH]D<20 ng/mL or 50 nmol/L) on COVID-19 infection and outcomes.

Methods: We searched Google Scholar, PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and ScienceDirect without any language restrictions for articles published between January 1 and December 15, 2020. We performed 3 meta-analyses (called vitamin D and COVID-19 infection meta-analysis [D-CIMA], vitamin D and COVID-19 severity meta-analysis [D-CSMA], and vitamin D and COV ID-19 mortality meta-analysis [D-CMMA] for COVID-19 infection, severity, and mortality, respectively) to combine odds ratio values according to laboratory measurement units for vitamin D and the measured serum 25(OH)D level.

Results: Twenty-one eligible studies were found to be relevant to the relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19 infection/outcomes (n=205,869). The D-CIMA meta-analysis showed that individuals with low serum vitamin D levels were 1.64 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.32 to 2.04; p<0.001) more likely to contract COVID-19. The D-CSMA meta-analysis showed that people with serum 25(OH)D levels below 20 ng/mL or 50 nmol/L were 2.42 times (95% CI, 1.13 to 5.18; p=0.022) more likely to have severe COVID-19. The D-CMMA meta-analysis showed that low vitamin D levels had no effect on COVID-19 mortality (OR, 1.64; 95% CI, 0.53 to 5.06, p=0.390).

Conclusions: According to our results, vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of COVID-19 infection and the likelihood of severe disease. Therefore, we recommend vitamin D supplementation to prevent COVID-19 and its negative outcomes.

Keywords: COVID-19; Meta-analysis; SARS-CoV-2; Systematic review; Vitamin D deficiency.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / epidemiology
  • Vitamins


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D