A new study from Northwestern University and the Boston Medical Center hypothesizes that increased exposure to vitamin D could reduce coronavirus mortality rates.

Based on a statistical analysis on clinics and hospitals across 10 different countries, including the United States, researchers noted that patients with higher exposure to vitamin D were more likely to beat the disease caused by the virus.

“We saw a significant correlation with vitamin D deficiency,” said Vadim Backman, a professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern who led the research.

Vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight hitting your skin. Vitamin D is also present in food and supplements.

The Northwestern researchers believe vitamin D is particularly helpful in preventing cytokine storm, when the body starts to attack its own cells and tissue due to an overactive immune system. Other research has shown that cytokine storm and a dangerously overactive immune system could be fueling COVID-19 fatalities.

“Cytokine storm can severely damage lungs and lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and death in patients,” said Northwestern researcher Ali Daneshkhah. “This is what seems to kill a majority of COVID-19 patients, not the destruction of the lungs by the virus itself.”

The study has not been peer reviewed, as of last week.

In essence, a sunnier forecast could potentially help reduce COVID-19 mortality.

“The angle of the sun translates into a differential flux on the skin, which certainly makes a difference for vitamin D,” Dr. Backman said in an email to The Denver Post. “Other factors such as genetics, food, etc. may play an equally important role.”

The 90-day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) places Denver and Colorado as having equal chances of having a wetter or drier than average June, July and August.

If you are forced to stay inside and feel deprived of vitamin D, though, the researchers also advised against hoarding supplements. The team emphasized that more research is needed.

“While I think it is important for people to know that vitamin D deficiency might play a role in mortality, we don’t need to push vitamin D on everybody,” Dr. Backman said. “This needs further study, and I hope our work will stimulate interest in this area.

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