“Not the Final Word”—CRN Responds to Early Reporting on Vitamin D and COVID-19 Studies in the British Medical Journal


WASHINGTON—The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement and functional food industry, today responded to media reports about two newly published studies [1, 2] on vitamin D and COVID-19 in the British Medical Journal.

Statement from Luke Huber, ND, Vice President, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs:

“Two new studies from the British Medical Journal on vitamin D and COVID-19 should be read cautiously, despite some overly simplistic early media coverage. Reporting on this research that suggests vitamin D levels are not relevant to COVID-19 outcomes ignores the large body of research on this connection and downplays critical limitations of these studies.  

“An editorial in BMJ accompanying the studies highlights some of the limitations of each study and notes that they ‘aren’t the final word’ on vitamin D’s role in protecting against COVID-19. For example, the editorial points out that about 50 percent of participants in the control arm of the Jolliffe, et al. study were using vitamin D on their own.

“The editorial also notes that ‘…these new trials remain compatible with the two large meta-analyses suggesting that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for vitamin D deficient individuals.’ Indeed, meta-analyses of studies conducted since the beginning of COVID-19 largely demonstrate a positive role for higher vitamin D levels in reducing the incidence, severity, and mortality from the disease.

“Finally, the editorial makes clear, ‘For those with inadequate vitamin D levels (<50 nmol/L), supplementation with 1000-2000 IU/day could be a safe, simple, and affordable way to restore vitamin D levels, improve bone health, and take advantage of any possible protective effect against respiratory tract infections.’

“To prevent COVID-19, CRN encourages following proper public health measures including vaccination, testing, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance as appropriate, as well as optimizing vitamin D levels, which can be achieved through supplementation. This isn't an either/or situation, it's a both/and—and those who suggest otherwise are doing the public a disservice.

“More than 100 clinical studies have been completed on vitamin D and COVID-19. This research is available at www.vitamindandme.org, along with interviews with experts and other resources exploring this issue.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing more than 200 dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, ingredient suppliers, and companies providing services to those manufacturers and suppliers. In addition to complying with a host of federal and state regulations governing dietary supplements and food in the areas of manufacturing, marketing, quality control and safety, our manufacturer and supplier members also agree to adhere to additional voluntary guidelines as well as to CRN’s Code of Ethics. For more information, visit www.crnusa.org. Follow us on Twitter @CRN_Supplements and LinkedIn.