Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved Research

Omega-3, Vitamin D Levels and COVID-19 Outcomes

Principal Investigator: Dr Nathan Tintle
Approved Research ID: 72396
Approval date: April 27th 2021

Lay summary

COVID-19 inflicted tremendous damage on our world in 2020, and although multiple vaccines have been introduced, getting the world vaccinated remains a daunting challenge. We have made progress in the treatment of the disease, but what is still unclear is what dietary or nutritional measures can be taken to reduce our risk for not only becoming infected, but more importantly (since many people have been infected but had no symptoms) for getting really sick or even dying from COVID-19. This study will attempt to establish a link between two important nutrients - omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oils) and vitamin D - and risk for becoming sick with COVID-19.

Using the resources of the UK Biobank, we will test the idea that people who have relatively high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and/or vitamin D are more or less protected from getting sick from the infection. If we find such evidence, then the reasonable thing to do would be for each of us to increase our intake of foods rich in these nutrients and/or to take dietary supplements containing them. This would be a simple, cheap and completely safe way to our reduce risk for becoming ill with COVID-19. We anticipate this project being completed within 12 months (by January 2022).

Scope extension:

Specific Aims: The first aim is to evaluate whether there is there a relationship between total omega-3 fatty acids and total omega-3 fatty acids and the risk for (a) Hospital Inpatient Admissions (admitted vs. not), (b) ICU admission (hospitalized without ICU vs. with ICU) or (c) Death (hospitalized without dying vs. died). Other aims replace total omega-3 fatty acids with (a) DHA, (b) total omega-6 fatty acids, (c) the omega-6:omega-3 fatty acid ratio and (d) vitamin D levels. We will also evaluate whether vitamin D mediates or moderates the relationship between omega-3 levels and COVID-19 outcomes.

Additional scope: In addition to the above, we will (a) document the distribution of omega-3 and other fatty acid levels by demographic groups in the UkBiobank sample, (b) document how to convert omega-3 and other fatty acid levels from the Nightingale platform to an interpretable value on other fatty acid biomarker scales (e.g., erythrocyte membrane), (c) document the association of omega-3 levels with markers of inflammation (e.g., NLR, RDW, PNI, SII), (d) document the association of omega-3 levels with dietary intake and supplementation and (e) document the association of omega-3 levels and infectious respiratory disease.