Link between low Vitamin D levels, high COVID-19 infection risk established by Israeli researchers

People in their 20's and 50's were also found to be more at-risk for COVID-19 in the study, due to social gatherings and comorbid conditions.

A new study has found a connection between people with low levels of vitamin D and their development of coronavirus and their subsequent hospitalization.

The team of researchers studied vitamin D levels in 7,807 people – out of which 782 were tested COVID-19 positive and 7,025 were negative. They found that the average plasma vitamin D level was significantly lower among those who tested positive for COVID-19 as compared to those that were negative. Previous studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements and spending 30 minutes in the sun could be helpful.

The study, authored by researchers from the Leumit Health Services (LHS) and the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of Bar-Ilan University, Israel, has been published in the FEBS Journal.

Vitamin D, popularly called the sunshine vitamin, is produced naturally by the body when exposed to the sun. It is also present in certain foods like fish, eggs and fortified dairy products. Normal vitamin D levels reduce the risk of getting a range of diseases, including the flu, infections, multiple sclerosis, heart conditions, autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity and age-related cognitive decline. Vitamin D is also helpful to prevent diseases linked to bone and calcium metabolism. The liver converts vitamin D into a useable form, Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D (or calcidiol), which is also what most vitamin D blood tests look for, including the test used by the researchers in the study.

Previous studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements and spending 30 minutes in the sun could be helpful.

Previous studies have shown that taking vitamin D supplements and spending 30 minutes in the sun could be helpful.

Dr Eugene Merzon, one of the study's lead researchers from LHS, told International Business Times that their main finding was a "significant connection between low plasma vitamin D level and the likelihood of COVID-19 infection among patients who were tested for COVID-19."

Researchers adjusted the data they collected for differences in age, gender, socio-economic status, and chronic, mental and physical disorders in the study patients. While the link was significant for the risk of infection, it was less significant in cases of hospitalisation.

"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," Merzon added.

"Our finding is in agreement with the results of previous studies in the field. Reduced risk of acute respiratory tract infection following vitamin D supplementation has been reported," Dr Ilan Green, Head of the LHS Research Institute said.

The study also found that there were two groups of people infected with the coronavirus – those who were in the twenties and older people in their fifties.

"Interestingly, the two-peak distributions for age groups were demonstrated to confer increased risk for COVID-19: around ages 25 and 50 years old," said Dr Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern told Israel National News. "The first peak may be explained by high social gathering habits at the young age. The peak at age 50 years may be explained by continued social habits, in conjunction with various chronic diseases."

The next step in this study will be to evaluate mortality due to COVID-19 in Israel.

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Also read: Some scientists think that Vitamin D may help protect people against COVID-19 but the results are inconclusive

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