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Does vitamin D supplementation prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection in military personnel? Review of the evidence
  1. Iain T Parsons1,2,
  2. R M Gifford1,3,
  3. M J Stacey1,
  4. L E Lamb1,
  5. M K O'Shea1 and
  6. D R Woods1,4
  1. 1 Academic Department of Military Medicine, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 School of Cardiovascular Medicine and Life Sciences, King's College London, London, UK
  3. 3 British Heart Foundation Centre for Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Midlothian, UK
  4. 4 Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Maj Iain T Parsons, Academic Department of Military Medicine, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK; iainparsons{at}


For most individuals residing in Northwestern Europe, maintaining replete vitamin D status throughout the year is unlikely without vitamin D supplementation and deficiency remains common. Military studies have investigated the association with vitamin D status, and subsequent supplementation, with the risk of stress fractures particularly during recruit training. The expression of nuclear vitamin D receptors and vitamin D metabolic enzymes in immune cells additionally provides a rationale for the potential role of vitamin D in maintaining immune homeostasis. One particular area of interest has been in the prevention of acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs). The aims of this review were to consider the evidence of vitamin D supplementation in military populations in the prevention of ARTIs, including SARS-CoV-2 infection and consequent COVID-19 illness. The occupational/organisational importance of reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2, especially where infected young adults may be asymptomatic, presymptomatic or paucisymptomatic, is also discussed.

  • respiratory infections
  • public health
  • preventive medicinE
  • occupational & industrial medicine
  • infectious diseases
  • internal medicine

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  • Contributors ITP drafted the manuscript and researched the content. RMG researched the content and edited the manuscript. MJS researched the content and edited the manuscript. LEL and MKOS reviewed and edited the manuscript. DRW reviewed and edited the manuscript and provided overarching review of the content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.