A group of Israeli researchers has found a stunning link between COVID and your levels of vitamin D.
The researchers say that they found “striking” differences in the chances of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 when they compared patients who had sufficient vitamin D levels prior to contracting the disease with those who didn’t.
The study published in the research journal PLOS One found that about half of people who were vitamin D deficient before getting COVID-19 developed severe illness, compared to less than 10% of people who had sufficient levels of the vitamin in their blood.
We know vitamin D is vital for bone health, but its role in protecting against severe COVID-19 is less well established. The latest research was the first to examine vitamin D levels in people prior to them contracting COVID-19, the study authors said.
Dr. Amiel Dror, a study author and physician at the Galilee Medical Center said of the findings, “We found it remarkable, and striking, to see the difference in the chances of becoming a severe patient when you are lacking in vitamin D compared to when you’re not,” The Times of Israel reported.
The findings come from 253 people admitted to Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Israel, between April 7, 2020, and February 4, 2021 — a period before the highly infectious Omicron variant emerged.
Dror said the findings suggested that vitamin D helped bolster the immune system to deal with viruses that attack the respiratory system.
“This is equally relevant for Omicron as it was for previous variants,” Dror said.
Most vitamin D comes from direct sunlight on the skin. It’s also found in foods such as fatty fish, mushrooms, and egg yolks and in supplements.
Vitamin D levels of more than 20 nanograms per milliliter are considered sufficient for most people, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — which is the benchmark used by the researchers from Bar-Ilan University and Galilee Medical Center.
Earlier research compiled before the emergence of COVID-19 and published in The Lancet found that vitamin D cut the risk of other respiratory infections compared with placebo drugs.
However, the research doesn’t prove that vitamin D protects against COVID-19 and isn’t a green light to avoid vaccines and take vitamins instead. Vaccines cut the risk of Omicron hospitalization, particularly after a booster, by up to 90%.
Since most people do not get enough sunlight to produce adequate supplies of vitamin D, and there are other issues associated with vitamin D deficiency, eating vitamin D-rich foods or supplementing with vitamin D is probably a good idea.