Low vitamin D levels do not aggravate COVID-19 risk or death, and vitamin D supplementation does not improve outcomes in hospitalized patients with COVID-19: a meta-analysis and GRADE assessment of cohort studies and RCTs

Nutr J. 2021 Oct 31;20(1):89. doi: 10.1186/s12937-021-00744-y.


Background: The associations between vitamin D and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and clinical outcomes are controversial. The efficacy of vitamin D supplementation in COVID-19 is also not clear.

Methods: We identified relevant cohort studies that assessed the relationship between vitamin D, COVID-19 infection and associated death and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that reported vitamin D supplementation on the outcomes in patients with COVID-19 by searching the PubMed, EMBASE, and medRxiv databases up to June 5th, 2021. Evidence quality levels and recommendations were assessed using the GRADE system.

Results: Eleven cohort studies with 536,105 patients and two RCTs were identified. Vitamin D deficiency (< 20 ng/ml) or insufficiency (< 30 ng/ml) was not associated with an significant increased risk of COVID-19 infection (OR for < 20 ng/ml: 1.61, 95% CI: 0.92-2.80, I2 = 92%) or in-hospital death (OR for < 20 ng/ml: 2.18, 95% CI: 0.91-5.26, I2 = 72%; OR for < 30 ng/ml: 3.07, 95% CI: 0.64-14.78, I2 = 66%). Each 10 ng/ml increase in serum vitamin D was not associated with a significant decreased risk of COVID-19 infection (OR: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.79-1.08, I2 = 98%) or death (OR: 0.65, 95% CI: 0.40-1.06, I2 = 79%). The overall quality of evidence (GRADE) for COVID-19 infection and associated death was very low. Vitamin D supplements did not significantly decrease death (OR: 0.57, I2 = 64%) or ICU admission (OR: 0.14, I2 = 90%) in patients with COVID-19. The level of evidence as qualified using GRADE was low.

Conclusions: Current evidence suggested that vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency was not significantly linked to susceptibility to COVID-19 infection or its associated death. Vitamin D supplements did not significantly improve clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19. The overall GRADE evidence quality was low, we suggest that vitamin D supplementation was not recommended for patients with COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; Meta-analysis; Nutrition; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dietary Supplements
  • GRADE Approach*
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vitamin D


  • Vitamin D