The Ingalls Development Foundation recently committed $35,000 to help fund a University of Chicago Health Lab research project to study whether vitamin D supplements can help prevent COVID-19.
In a study published in the September 3, 2020, issue of the JAMA Network Open, UChicago Medicine’s (UCM) David Meltzer, MD, PhD, and colleagues at UCM, reported that UCM patients with vitamin D deficiency are nearly twice as likely to test positive for COVID-19. Other studies have found similar results and that people with vitamin D deficiency have more severe outcomes of COVID-19. This association prompted the Health Lab research team to launch a randomized control trial to determine if vitamin D supplements can reduce the risk and severity of COVID-19.
Vitamin D is an essential ingredient for the immune system to fight disease. Vitamin D deficiency is common in the United States and is more likely in people who do not spend much time in the sun, have darker skin, or consume little dairy or fish. The study, designed to include a diverse population from Chicagoland, will help researchers understand if vitamin D supplementation helps prevent and/or lessens the severity of COVID-19.
“If treating vitamin D deficiency with supplements lowers the risk of contracting COVID-19 as it does in other respiratory diseases, this would be a significant finding for a local, national and global audience,” Dr. Meltzer explained.
Participants are currently being recruited to participate in this no-contact study. Males and females may be eligible to participate if over age 18, not pregnant or breastfeeding, have no existing vitamin D risks in their medical history and live in the Chicagoland area. The study aims to enroll up to 2,000 participants.
Participants will take vitamin D tablets of varying dosage to help determine the effects on COVID-19 risks. All dosages are within the tolerable upper limit as identified by the Institute of Medicine and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Food and Nutrition Board.
Participants will complete an initial no-cost online screening survey to collect demographic and health information to determine eligibility and complete a 15-minute follow-up survey every three months for a year.
Vitamin D supplements can cause some medical issues. However, study eligibility screening seeks to disqualify persons who are considered to be most at-risk. The highest vitamin D dose that participants will receive is unlikely to present a significant risk for people who are eligible for the study.
For more information, or to sign up for the study, visit vitd.bsd.uchicago.edu.
The Ingalls Development Foundation is a 501 c-3 not-for-profit corporation whose purpose is connect donors with impact opportunities to transform community health through philanthropic investments in healthcare facilities, clinical programs and community development to benefit their patients while achieving clinical excellence.