Vitamin D Deficiencies in Bangladesh and its Effect on COVID-19: A Review

Samah Malik, CDM Class of 2025

Name: Samah Malik
School: College of Dental Medicine, Class of 2025
Mentor: Kim Hekimian, PhD and Sylvana Sinha, Esq. 

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Despite its tropical climate and close proximity to the equator, vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic disproportionately affecting women and children in Bangladesh. Vitamin D is essential in many processes related to calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. In Bangladesh, malnutrition is often to blame for insufficient levels of the nutrient. Deficiencies of vitamin D can cause rickets in children, and osteoporosis in adults. It can also impact the development of certain chronic conditions and infectious diseases. Recent studies have indicated that vitamin D levels can affect the severity of COVID-19 infections. This review investigates the increased risk that the Bangladeshi population faces in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic due to widespread deficiencies in vitamin D, and postulates how supplementation of vitamin D could alleviate the intensity of COVID-19. The review is conducted by examining available published data on both vitamin D deficiencies in Bangladesh and connections between vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19. As many of the published articles focusing on the latter are centered in developed countries, where the effect of food insecurity is often not accounted for, the review also focuses on how malnutrition could play a role in supplementation based treatments. Based on the studies, low levels of vitamin D lead to an increase in inflammatory cytokines and thrombotic episodes, placing the Bangladeshi population at a higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19 infections. However, while supplementation could potentially aid hospitalized patients who have sufficient levels of vitamin D, deficient patients may not benefit from this method of treatment.