The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the emirate, encourages the community to boost their vitamin D levels as a preventive tool against Covid-19 infection and boosting immunity during infection. This latest update from DoH is based on findings from a local study that has demonstrated a strong association between vitamin D levels and Covid-19 severity and mortality among a sample of affected people in the UAE. The newly published study, conducted by Dr. Habiba Al Safar, an Emirati research scholar, and Dr. Fatme Al Anouti, Associate Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at Zayed University, has been approved by Abu Dhabi Health Research aEthics Committee – Abu Dhabi.
Several international studies have documented the correlation between vitamin D deficiency and severity of viral infections, such as influenza. In addition to this, there is mounting evidence from global studies that indicates that lower vitamin D levels are commonly associated with risk of acquiring, and dying from, Covid-19 among hospitalised patients.
The local study led by Dr. Al Safar and Dr. Al Anouti examined samples of 522 UAE residents, aged 18 years and older, that tested positive for Covid-19. The study found that 59% of patients who had vitamin D deficiency and severe vitamin D deficiency, suffered from severe symptoms of Covid-19 infection. Patients who had severe infection were older and more obese than others in the study. This finding is in accordance with earlier studies that have identified age, obesity and vitamin D deficiency as well-established factors for Covid-19 infection. The study therefore concludes that vitamin D has a protective effect against Covid-19 infection.
Dr. Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, Executive Director Research & Innovation, from Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, commented, “This local study by Emirati research scholar Dr. Habiba Al Safar and Dr. Fatme Al Anouti, Zayed University Professor, presents promising results to better understand the protective effect of vitamin D against Covid-19, both as a preventive tool against infection but also may play a role in boosting the immunity of patients during infection. The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi is calling on the community to take note of the importance of vitamin D supplementation. Such preventive measure, in addition to vaccinations, will be important in maintaining the health and safety of our society.”
Al Mannaei added, “In addition to our ongoing efforts in combatting Covid-19, scientific research remains a top priority for Abu Dhabi to enable easy and quick access to information, improve public education and ensure better capacity to deal with all of the challenges at hand.”
Dr Habiba Al Safar is an Associate Professor at the Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, an Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Khalifa University Center for Biotechnology.
Dr. Fatme Al Anouti, Associate Professor of Clinical Biochemistry, Department of Public Health and Nutrition at Zayed University