Vitamin D deficiency linked to increased risk for COVID-19

The Health Ministry has been recommending vitamin D since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Pills (illustrative) (photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR/FLASH90)
Pills (illustrative)
(photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR/FLASH90)
Vitamin D deficiency might be linked to an increased risk of contracting coronavirus – and even increased mortality, according to a report published Monday by the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center.
The report, which aggregated a number of recent research studies, showed a circumstantial (rather than causal) relationship between one’s level of vitamin D and coronavirus. Nonetheless, in light of the potential benefits of taking vitamin D, the center recommended that “action must be taken” to ensure Israelis maintain a normal level of the vitamin.
The center recommended a communications campaign to inform the public of the benefits of vitamin D and how to get it, including spending at least 20 minutes per day in the sun between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. or taking a supplement of 800 to 1,000 IU per day for people who are normal weight and more for those who are overweight or obese.
The Health Ministry has been recommending vitamin D since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Earlier this month, when US President Donald Trump contracted the virus, it was reported that among other supplements, he was taking a daily dose of vitamin D.
In July, The Jerusalem Post published a report of what was then a new study by Leumit Health Care Services and Bar-Ilan University’s Azrieli Faculty of Medicine that found that low levels of vitamin D may put people at risk for developing COVID-19.
“The main finding of our study was the significant association of low plasma vitamin D level with the likelihood of COVID-19 infection among patients who were tested for COVID-19, even after adjustment for age, gender, socioeconomic status and chronic, mental and physical disorders,” said Dr. Eugene Merzon, head of Leumit’s Department of Managed Care and its leading researcher said over the summer. “Furthermore, low vitamin D level was associated with the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, although this association wasn’t significant after adjustment for other confounders.”
The Israeli scientists studied 782 Israeli COVID-19-positive patients and 7,825 negative patients and determined that while “we don’t know the mechanism,” said Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern, leader of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine research group, “what we do know is that people who develop severe COVID and were hospitalized – these people have significantly low vitamin D levels.”
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been understood to impact immune response.
According to Frenkel-Morgenstern, as much as 70% of the adult population worldwide is vitamin D insufficient or deficient.