Coronavirus fact-check: Is Vitamin D the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19?

World media has been abuzz over the last few days, following the release of a study that shows a link between COVID-19 patients' Vitamin D levels and their ability to fight the disease.

The study, undertaken by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust and the University of East Anglia, shows that a deficiency in Vitamin D may be associated with higher mortality in coronavirus patients.

It follows another research project from the Philippines last month which found that of 104 COVID-19 patients in a critical or severe condition, 100 - 96 percent - had low Vitamin D levels.

Based on this research, Public Health England is now urging Britons to take daily Vitamin D supplements in the hope this can put the brakes on its escalating coronavirus death toll, which currently stands at 28,000.

So is Vitamin D an effective COVID-19 treatment?

While the studies certainly point to a promising link, it's important to note that neither of them has been peer-reviewed.

This makes sense given how quickly coronavirus has become a global pandemic, but also calls into question the quality of the research, as it means the studies' testing and methodology have not yet been critiqued.

Despite this, Vitamin D has proven its benefits in the past and has already been championed by the medical community as an effective tool for preventing a range of ailments, including rickets and other bone diseases.

Notably, studies also show healthy levels of Vitamin D can stave off asthma, tuberculosis and influenza which, like coronavirus, are respiratory conditions.

The vitamin, which can be absorbed through direct sunlight, food and supplements, is a nutrient that helps the body produce calcium and maintain healthy phosphorus levels.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust says its study, despite the lack of peer-reviewing, shows clear enough evidence of a link between COVID-19 mortality and low Vitamin D to recommend it in the fight against coronavirus.

"We believe that we can advise Vitamin D supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV2 infection," its research states.

But until multiple studies show the same association - and those studies are peer-reviewed - don't expect the World Health Organization to market Vitamin D around as the world's best chance to defeat COVID-19.

Should I take Vitamin D supplements?

While taking Vitamin D is not necessarily going to help you stave off coronavirus, it's unlikely to harm you either - unless you have pre-existing kidney problems.

Experts have proven that Vitamin D promotes good general health, so healthy levels of it can only be positive for anyone infected with COVID-19.

Particularly during the lockdown, when people are staying inside more than normal and are thus less likely to absorb Vitamin D through sunlight, supplements could help maintain good health.