Is cod liver oil useful against COVID-19?

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The Oslo University Hospital will launch a research project to find out if cod liver oil has beneficial effects against COVID-19. Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which would make it an ally to strengthen the immune system and even limit the severity of a respiratory infection such as that caused by SARS CoV-2.

Vitamin D plays an essential role in the absorption of certain minerals by the body. Its origin is twofold because it is provided by food and synthesized by the body in the skin under the action of sunlight or ultraviolet. In the first case, the foods richest in vitamin D are cod liver oil and fatty fish such as herring, sardines, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, trout, perch, salmon. Numerous studies have investigated the value of this vitamin in this context of the coronavirus epidemic: vitamin D would be a valuable ally against acute respiratory infections of viral origin.

Thus, Great Britain recently decided to distribute vitamin D supplements to 2 million elderly and vulnerable people during the winter, while Spanish researchers stated that almost 80% of patients affected by Covid-19 had vitamin D deficiencies. Last May , the French Academy of Medicine also mentioned its interest because it could play a role in the regulation of the inflammatory response of cytokines in the origin of the acute respiratory distress syndrome that characterizes the severe forms of Covid -19. "A significant correlation has been shown between low serum vitamin D levels and Covid-19 mortality," they noted.

Supplementation or hygiene of life: what is the most protective factor?

However, "vitamin D cannot be considered as a preventive or curative treatment for SARS-CoV-2 infection, but could be considered as an adjunct to any form of therapy by reducing the inflammatory storm," the organization concluded. This will be explored by doctors at the Oslo University Hospital, focusing on one of the foods richest in vitamin D: cod liver oil. Doctors want to answer this question: does cod liver oil provide a real protective effect or is it because people who consume it generally have a healthy lifestyle, which limits the risk of infection?

"This subject will now be further investigated in what will be one of the largest clinical studies ever conducted in Norway," say the doctors. "Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids and the study will build on the results of the large COVID-19 study called Koronastudie that was launched this spring. Preliminary data from this" Koronastudie "study still ongoing showed that consumers of cod liver oil may have a reduced risk of contamination from COVID-19 infection and a lower risk of becoming seriously ill in the event of an infection. "

Valuable information on how to prevent infections

A first discovery that continues to confirm the conclusions of previous scientific works that evoke the beneficial properties of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D on respiratory tract infections and COVID-19. "However, the study results cannot rule out that cod liver oil users have other protective characteristics in their lifestyle," say the researchers. That is why they believe that another so-called "randomized" study (randomly distributing a placebo or the tested drug substance) is necessary to find out if cod liver oil itself really offers protection against COVID. -19.

This Norwegian study will include at least 70,000 participants, making it one of the largest clinical studies ever conducted in this country. During this period, half of the participants will take a daily dose of cod liver oil, while the other half will receive a placebo product. The participants, who will not know in which group they will be placed, are being recruited. "The results can provide us with valuable information on how we can prevent COVID-19 infection and other viral diseases such as seasonal flu and the common cold," explains Professor Arne Søraas, first author of the study.

The study will end in April 2021, but the researchers do not say when their results will be publicly available. Meanwhile, a sufficient supply of vitamin D is essential on a daily basis, especially during periods of confinement, because in addition to strengthening the immune system, it plays an essential role in the quality of bone and muscle tissue. In April, ANSES drew up a list of all foods rich in vitamin D. He also recalled the importance of ensuring adequate food intake, sufficient in people at risk: the elderly and people with dark or dark skin and postmenopausal women.

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