A “Striking” Link Between Vitamin D Levels and Omicron

New data reveals an unexpected risk factor for the highly contagious Omicron virus: low vitamin D levels.

Source: Fernando Zhiminicela / Pixabay

A recent study by Israeli scientists found “striking” differences in the chances of getting serious illnesses. COVID-19 disease between individuals with sufficient levels of vitamin D before contracting the virus and those who did not.

Half of those with vitamin deficiencies developed serious, life-threatening illness compared to less than 10 percent of those with normal levels. The study is the first to examine existing vitamin levels in people before they contracted COVID. “We found it remarkable and surprising,” said the lead author, “to see the difference in the chances of becoming seriously ill when vitamin D is lacking compared to when vitamin D is lacking.”

The data comes from 253 people who were admitted to a hospital between April 7, 2020, and February 4, 2021, a period of time before the highly infectious Omicron variant emerged. The results, however, are “just as relevant” to Omicron as they were to previous strains, the study authors say.

Vitamin D is largely synthesized naturally in human skin and requires direct exposure to sunlight. Artificial light, no matter how bright, is not enough. Given that the pandemic has kept many people mostly indoors for more than two years, it’s easy to see how a sizable number of people could have fallen below the threshold for adequate vitamin levels, which is at least 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

Diet it plays a much smaller role in vitamin intake and maintenance. It is soluble in fat rather than water and is found in foods such as fresh fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, full-fat yogurt, beef liver, and duck.

Sumanley Xulux / Pixabay

Source: Sumanley Xulux / Pixabay

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Throughout life, the vitamin regulates calcium metabolism, which is crucial for the development and maintenance of healthy bones. Prevents rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults. The latter results in brittle bones and consequently in otherwise avoidable fractures. Muscle and bone weakness also make people prone to falls. Its active metabolite acts as hormone that targets the kidney and other organs, giving it a role in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and immune vitality.

Research published in the lancet and compiled before the emergence of strains of COVID found that, compared to dummy drugs, adequate vitamin D also reduced the risk of other respiratory infections.

Israeli researchers warned that vitamin D was just “one piece of the complex puzzle” underlying severe cases of COVID-19. By itself it does not constitute proof of cause. However, it does appear to serve as a useful marker to flag people who may develop serious illness.

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