Vitamin D status: a U-shaped relationship for SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity in UK healthcare workers

BMJ Open Respir Res. 2022 Sep;9(1):e001258. doi: 10.1136/bmjresp-2022-001258.


Background: There is increasing evidence that vitamin D (VD) deficiency may increase individuals' risk of COVID-19 infection and susceptibility. We aimed to determine the relationship between VD deficiency and sufficiency and COVID-19 seropositivity within healthcare workers.

Methods: The study included an observational cohort of healthcare workers who isolated due to COVID-19 symptoms from 12 May to 22 May 2020, from the University Hospitals Birmingham National Health Service Foundation Trust. Data collected included SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion status, serum 25(OH)D3 levels, age, body mass index (BMI), sex, ethnicity, job role and comorbidities. Participants were grouped into four VD categories: (1) Severe VD deficiency (VD<30 nmol/L); (2) VD deficiency (30 nmol/L ≤VD<50 nmol/L); (3) VD insufficiency (50 nmol/L ≤VD<75 nmol/L); (4) VD sufficiency (VD≥75 nmol/L).

Results: When VD levels were compared against COVID-19 seropositivity rate, a U-shaped curve was identified. This trend repeated when participants were split into subgroups of age, sex, ethnicity, BMI and comorbidity status. Significant difference was identified in the COVID-19 seropositivity rate between VD groups in the total population and between groups of men and women; black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) group; BMI<30 (kg/m2); 0 and +1 comorbidities; the majority of which were differences when the severely VD deficient category were compared with the other groups. A larger proportion of those within the BAME group (vs white ethnicity) were severely VD deficient (p<0.00001). A larger proportion of the 0 comorbidity subgroup were VD deficient in comparison to the 1+ comorbidity subgroup (p=0.046).

Conclusions: Our study has shown a U-shaped relationship for COVID-19 seropositivity in UK healthcare workers. Further investigation is required to determine whether high VD levels can have a detrimental effect on susceptibility to COVID-19 infection. Future randomised clinical trials of VD supplementation could potentially identify 'optimal' VD levels, allowing for targeted therapeutic treatment for those at risk.

Keywords: COVID-19; respiratory infection; viral infection.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Male
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / epidemiology


  • Vitamin D