New evidence linking vitamin D and severe COVID-19 illness

(ORDO NEWS) — Israeli scientists say they have found “striking” differences in the chances of getting seriously ill with COVID-19. The observation examined patients with adequate levels of vitamin D and those who did not.

In short: if you’re taking vitamin D, go ahead.

A study published in the scientific journal PLOS One found that about half of people who were deficient in vitamin D before contracting COVID-19 were severely ill. These rates compare to those of less than 10 percent of people who had adequate blood levels of the vitamin.

Vitamin D is vital for bone health, the researchers emphasize, but its role in protecting against severe COVID-19 is less well known. This study was the first to look at vitamin D levels in people before they contracted COVID-19, the authors said.

Dr. Amiel Dror, study author and physician at the Galilee Medical Center, said of the results: “We were amazed when we saw the difference in the chances of becoming a seriously ill patient with vitamin D deficiency versus adequate vitamin D.”

The results are from 253 people admitted to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Israel, between April 7, 2020 and February 4, 2021, prior to the emergence of the highly infectious omicron strain.

Dror said the findings suggest that vitamin D helps boost the immune system to fight viruses that attack the respiratory system. “This is just as relevant for the omicron as it was for the previous options,” Dror said.

The study does not prove that vitamin D protects against COVID-19, nor does it provide a reason to avoid vaccines and take vitamins instead. According to the UK Health Safety Agency, vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization for omicron infection, especially after revaccination, by 90 percent.

Most vitamin D comes from direct sunlight on the skin. It is also found in foods such as oily fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, and dietary supplements.

Even from those studies that showed a positive correlation between low vitamin D levels and severe COVID-19, it was not clear whether the vitamin D deficiency occurred before or after people got sick, the Israeli scientists said. Despite new data from Israel, we still do not know if low vitamin D levels in people with COVID-19 cause serious illness.

Israeli researchers have warned that vitamin D is “one piece of a complex puzzle” at the heart of severe COVID-19. And that’s in addition to comorbidities, genetic predisposition, dietary habits, and geographic factors.

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