In mid-March, President Donald Trump issued the official guidelines involving the closures of businesses, non-essential businesses, and all other areas where people could gather for 15-days, which had several extensions through April. This essentially created a nationwide shut-in, which may have been unwise in light of recent findings.

New research shows that it could be a significant factor that impacts people’s abilities to stave off infection with the Wuhan Coronavirus is Vitamin D.

Good levels of vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin, help people to fight the coronavirus more quickly and effectively and reduce chances of hospitalization, Israeli researchers have concluded.

However, others are cautioning broad conclusions, saying other factors may be involved.

Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern of Bar Ilan University told The Times of Israel on Sunday that vitamin D is “like a steroid,” after publishing what she says is the world’s largest population-based study of its kind.

She embarked on the joint study with Leumit Health Services to probe whether there is a basis to suggestions — heard throughout the pandemic — that vitamin D may prove helpful.

Her team studied a 7,807-strong sample of Israelis who were tested for the coronavirus. It found that the average vitamin D level for people who screened negative was in the internationally-accepted “adequate” range, while the average for those who tested positive fell in the “inadequate” category.

Vitamin D levels of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood are considered inadequate.

Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin after exposure to sunlight. Then it is metabolized by the liver and kidney to the metabolically active form called 1α,25-dihydroxy vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone formation and maintenance. It is also essential for immune system response and cardiovascular health. It is interesting to note that many of the fatalities associated with COVID-19 stem from its impact on the cardiovascular system.

This study may explain the findings that obese people among black and minority ethnic communities (BME) are at around two times higher the risk of contracting COVID-19 than white Europeans.

Previous research has shown that ethnicity can alter the association between the body mass index (BMI) and cardiometabolic health so the researchers wanted to explore whether a person’s weight could change the relative risk of COVID-19 across ethnic groups.

Emerging COVID-19 evidence has found that South Asian and black, African, or Caribbean populations are at a higher risk of becoming seriously unwell with the condition. In addition, a link with obesity has also been found.

To begin with, research had demonstrated that obesity is tied to Vitamin D deficiency.

New research adds to the evidence linking obesity with lower levels of vitamin D, and the finding could help explain why carrying extra pounds raises the risk for a wide range of diseases, researchers say.

The study suggests that people who are obese may be less able to convert vitamin D into its hormonally active form.

Researchers measured levels of vitamin D and its hormonally active form 1,25(OH)2D in almost 1,800 people being treated at a weight loss clinic in Norway.

Most of the people were overweight and 11% were considered morbidly obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.

The more the study participants weighed, the lower their vitamin D levels tended to be, study researcher Zoya Lagunova, MD, of the Rikshospitalet-Radiumhospitalet Medical Center in Oslo, Norway, tells WebMD.

Another study shows that African-Americans are at the highest risk for Vitamin D deficiency.

An estimated 40% of American adults may be vitamin D deficient. For African-Americans, that number may be nearly double at 76% according to a new study by The Cooper Institute.

Previous studies have shown that African-American adults have higher rates of vitamin D deficiency and obesity, as well as lower levels of cardiorespiratory fitness when compared with other groups. Across the board, African-American adults are generally at greater risk for a number of chronic and potentially life-shortening conditions such as hypertension, stroke, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and all-cause mortality, some of which is associated with vitamin D deficiency.

Here is another element of the effects of the COVID-19 response to consider. In 2015, Sweden expanded its requirements to have Vitamin D added to various diary products, lactose-free milk products, and cooking oil.

When confronted with COVID-19 outbreaks, Sweden did not implement extensive restrictions. It allowed people to go out and live their lives while focusing on protecting the vulnerable.

Here is the graph of their daily death totals, which have not been more than 2/day on any day this week.

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/sweden/

It appears that keeping people indoors and away from fresh air and sunshine has contributed to the challenges we have faced in this country, in terms of continuing outbreaks and poor outcomes. I assert that we would do better in our response if we ditched the masks and closures and opted to promote Vitamin D supplements and more freedom.

 

 
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