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HOW THE MARSA ALAM SUN MIGHT HELP PROTECT YOU FROM COVID-19 

NEW RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT A FEW MINUTES EVERY DAY OF STRONG SUNSHINE MIGHT DRAMATICALLY CUT YOUR RISK OF BEING INFECTED WITH COVID-19



Published 16 September 2020.
 

In Europe, according to several recent reports, there is a pandemic of vitamin D deficiency with as much as 40% of the population being classified as deficient and therefore more vulnerable to some diseases and cancers.[1] With covid-19 now likely to be with us for at least the next few months, it is interesting to note that several academic studies have suggested a link between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of infection and developing severe disease. A July 2020 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine ( full report ) reported that

"Regression modelling shows that more northerly countries in the Northern Hemisphere are currently (May 2020) showing relatively high covid-19 mortality, with an estimated 4.4% increase in mortality for each 1 degree of latitude north of 28 degrees North (P = 0.031) after adjustment for age of population. This supports a role for ultraviolet B acting via vitamin D synthesis." 

A more recent study by academics at the University of Chicago and published on 3 September 2020  ( full report ) looked at the association between vitamin D intake and covid-19 positivity stutus after adjusting for important variables such as age, race and comorbidities. It found that 

"the relative risk of testing positive for Covid-19 was 1.77 times greater for patients with likely deficient vitamin D status compared with patients with likely sufficient vitamin D status, a difference that was statistically significant." 

Perhaps of even greater significance were the results of a study published at the end of August of a randomized open label clinical trial at Reina Sofia University Hospital at Cordoba, Spain ( full report ). It found that hospitalised covid-19 patients treated temporarily with a high dose rapid absorption form of vitamin D were far less likely either to require intensive care or to die. Of the 50 patients receiving oral calcifediol only 1 (2%) required ICU admission and there were no fatalities. Of the 26 patients given standard treatment but no calcifediol vitamin D supplementation, 13 (50%) required admission to ICU of whom 2 died.  

It is of course too early to say with absolute certainty that an adequate vitamin D intake decreases the likelihood of infection or that it reduces the likelihood of severe disease, but the evidence that it does is mounting and substantial. As for most people the best and easiest way of obtaining vitamin D is through sun exposure, a few minutes spent every day under the almost guaranteed sunny blue skies at Marsa Alam, could be sufficient (depending obviously on skin tone and the time of day) to boost your vitamin D levels, and potentially reduce (though not eliminate) your risk of both becoming infected and developing severe disease. This is particularly true as the days become shorter in Europe, while at Marsa Alam, which lies on the edge of the desert and only just north of the tropics, you still get an average of 10.6 daylight hours and 9 hours of vitamin D rich sunshine every day during December and January. 


FOOTNOTE

1. See 'Vitamin D deficiency in Europe: Pandemic ?' in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. April 2016; 103(4): 1033-1044.  




 


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