17:10 GMT19 October 2020
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    Israel’s Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center revealed Monday that vitamin D deficiency might be linked to an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

    According to the center’s report, published Monday and reviewed by the Jerusalem Post, research studies have shown a circumstantial link between vitamin D levels and the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. Despite the lack of a known causal relationship between the vitamin and COVID-19 risk, the center still recommends that people take vitamin D supplements.

    Following the publication of its report, the Coronavirus National Information and Knowledge Center launched a communications campaign to inform the public about the benefits of vitamin D. 

    The center recommends spending at least 20 minutes in the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily or taking a supplement of 800 to 1,000 international units of vitamin D daily for individuals who fall under the “normal or healthy weight” category on the body mass index. 

    However, those considered overweight or obese by the index may require a higher dosage. The Israeli Health Ministry has been recommending that people take vitamin D since the start of the pandemic.

    This is not the first report to suggest there may be a link between contracting COVID-19 and vitamin D deficiency.

    In September, a retrospective study by the University of Chicago found a similar association.

    In the study, researchers evaluated 489 patients whose vitamin D levels were measured within a year before being tested for the novel coronavirus. 

    The researchers concluded that patients with untreated vitamin D deficiency were almost twice as likely to test positive for the virus compared to patients who were not deficient in the vitamin.

    “Vitamin D is important to the function of the immune system, and vitamin D supplements have previously been shown to lower the risk of viral respiratory tract infections,” David Meltzer, lead author of the study, said in a news release. “Our statistical analysis suggests this may be true for the COVID-19 infection.”

    According to the University of Chicago, around half of all Americans are deficient in vitamin D, with high deficiency rates among African Americans, Hispanic Americans and others living in places like Chicago, Illinois, where getting enough sun during the winter months is difficult.

    “Understanding whether treating vitamin D deficiency changes COVID-19 risk could be of great importance locally, nationally and globally,” Meltzer said. “Vitamin D is inexpensive, generally very safe to take and can be widely scaled.”

    However, the latest recommendation by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there is “insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19.”

    “Some investigational trials on the use of vitamin D in people with COVID-19 are being planned or are already accruing participants. These trials will administer vitamin D alone or in combination with other agents to participants with and without vitamin D deficiency,” the CDC adds.

    A new study published in late August also suggested that vitamin B may be important in preventing or reducing COVID-19 symptoms.

    The study, published by researchers at the University of Oxford, United Arab Emirates University and the University of Melbourne, found that vitamin B may play a role in modulating immune response by reducing inflammation, which may reduce the damage caused by the coronavirus. 

    The latest data by Worldometer shows that almost 300,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Israel, with more than 2,000 associated deaths.

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    coronavirus, COVID-19, Israel, Vitamin D
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