Study Shows Low Levels Of Vitamin D Lead To An Increased Risk of COVID-19

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A recent study by Israeli researchers has found a connection between lower levels of Vitamin D and increased risk of infection of COVID-19 and subsequent hospitalisation for the same.

About the study

Researchers from Leumit Health Services (LHS) and the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine I’d Bar-Ilan University have authored the study, ‘Low plasma 25(OH) Vitamin D level is associated with increased risk of COVID‐19 infection’. Published in the FEBS Journal, in the population-based study Vitamin D levels were studied in 7,807 people. Out of the total, 782 tested positive for COVID-19 and the rest, negative.

 “The main strength of our study is its being large, real-world, and population-based,”said Dr Dmitry Tworowski and Dr Alessandro Gorohovski.

The study found that those who tested positive have their mean plasma level undoubtedly lower than those who were negative. Thus indicating low plasma vitamin D level is an independent risk factor for Coronavirus infection and hospitalisation.

Findings of the study

Dr Eugene Merzon, Head of the Department of Managed Care told International Business Times, the notable finding of the study was a link between low levels of Vitamin D and increased risk of infection “among patients who were tested for COVID-19, even after adjustment for age, gender, socio-economic status, and chronic, mental and physical disorders.”

There is an association between lower levels of Vitamin D and the likelihood of hospitalisation owing to COVID-19. However, modifications for other confounders rendered this association insignificant. Age over 50 years, male gender and low-medium socioeconomic status were found positively associated with risk of COVID-19 in multivariate evaluations by the study.

Dr Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern, the leader of the Azrieli Faculty of Medicine research group revealed to Israel National News, “two-peak distributions for age groups were demonstrated to confer increased risk for SARS-CoV-2: around ages 25 and 50 years old.” Explaining further, Dr Frenkel-Morgenstern said high social meeting patterns explains the first region at young adulthood. Continued social patterns may explain the increase at age 50 in tandem with numerous chronic conditions.

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Dr Ilan Green, Head of the LHS Research Institute, claimed that the findings of this study are in agreement with the results of previous studies in similar fields. Supplementation of Vitamin D has reduced risk of acute respiratory tract infection.

Age over 50 years, male gender and low-medium socioeconomic status were found positively associated with risk of COVID-19 in multivariate evaluations.

“Surprisingly, chronic medical conditions, like dementia, cardiovascular disease, and chronic lung disease that were considered to be very risky in previous studies, were not found as increasing the rate of infection in our study. However, this finding is highly biased by the severe social contacts restrictions that were imposed on all the population during the COVID-19 outbreak,” explained Prof. Shlomo Vinker, LHS Chief Medical Officer. 

Dr Dmitry Tworowski and Dr Alessandro Gorohovski  from the Frenkel-Morgenstern laboratory at Bar-Ilan University spoke about the impact of this study. “The main strength of our study is its being large, real-world, and population-based,” they said. The next plan in the study shows to evaluate factors associated with mortality due to COVID-19 in Israel.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin. It is produced naturally in our body in the presence of sunlight. Fish, eggs and fortifies dairy products also contain the vitamin. Normal levels of vitamin D minimise the risk of contracting a variety of diseases. These include flu, infections, multiple sclerosis, heart disorders, autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cognitive loss associated with age.

Furthermore, Vitamin D assists in the prevention of bone-related disorders and calcium metabolism. The liver transforms vitamin D into a usable form, Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D (or calcidiol). It is what most blood tests on vitamin D are searching for, including the one used in the study.

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The researchers are attempting to identify correlations with the clinical effects of Coronavirus — such as patient glycemic pre-infection control — to allow mortality risk assessment due to the deadly infection in Israel.

Bhavya Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.