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Turkish study finds Vitamin D helps in COVID-19 treatment

A study by Istanbul University Cerrahpaşa Faculty of Medicine proved Vitamin D supplementation was efficient in both reducing fatalities from coronavirus and hospitalization.

The study, whose results were published in Nutrients journal, was conducted on 210 coronavirus cases being treated at Cerrahpaşa’s hospital. It found that COVID-19 fatalities among patients given Vitamin D supplements fell by more than twice and the duration of hospital stays also reduced by 1.9 times.

As part of the study, 163 of the 210 patients were administered Vitamin D while the rest were not given the supplements. The supplements raised the level of the vitamin to over 30 nanogram/deciliters (ng-dl) in those who were part of the experimental group.

The study’s authors say that Vitamin D was already used in the treatment of tuberculosis and pointed out earlier cross-sectional studies which associated low Vitamin D levels with an increased rate or severity of various infections from influenza to bacterial vaginosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). They say the vitamin has the ability to regulate immune response and mitigate the course of acute infections.

Professor Mustafa Sait Gönen, the study’s coordinator and dean of the faculty, says they measured Vitamin D levels among patients and administered supplements for 14 days to patients with low levels of the vitamin.

“We also examined the data of 867 COVID-19 patients. In the end, we concluded that the supplementation reduced death rate and hospital stays,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Friday. An earlier study abroad did not find any lower risk for coronavirus infection, hospitalization or severity of disease among people with higher levels of Vitamin D.

Gönen says their study highlights that the vitamin should be included in treatment programs for coronavirus. “Vitamins are essential for organisms but they are mostly supplied through food intake. Vitamin D is an exception and its levels are low in foods. Most Vitamin D can be derived via sunlight and thus, it is important to be exposed to sunlight, at least between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in summers, up to three times a week and for periods up to 20 minutes,” he stressed.

Gönen said vitamin levels were low especially in big cities and among people working in buildings with low levels of sunlight exposure. However, he warns that excessive Vitamin D supplementation also has side effects, like causing kidney stones and early aging.

Higher case numbers

Turkey is struggling with a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic nowadays. Though the number of daily cases is confined between 20,000 to 30,000, the pandemic’s impact is still felt in the country where the daily number of fatalities rarely drops below 200. Professor Tevfik Özlü, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says that the number of cases is far higher than the first wave of pandemic in the country.

“We did not have such high number of cases and deaths. Certainly, there are fluctuations and cases sometimes decrease but in general, we have a high number,” he warned in an interview with Demirören News Agency (DHA) Friday.

High figures are linked to low vaccination in some regions, along with a fast-spreading delta variant, despite a heightened vaccination program. Özlü says people have almost become accustomed to “losing 200 people every day.”

“It is like we are having an airplane crash every day and losing that many people. We have to heed the vaccination calls. Pandemic has not been mitigated, nor is it over,” he highlighted.

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