Friday, December 18, 2020

Breaking news: Risks vs. benefits: What we know about COVID-19 vaccines and their side effects and What Science Says About Vitamins and Supplements for Covid-19, Do vitamin D, melatonin, zinc, and vitamin C protect against Covid-19? by Robert Roy Britt and A 'hidden Jew's' return: Dona Garcias, Tiberius, and the Talmud, How a hidden 'converso' Jew found her way back to Judaism, and ultimately journeyed to the Holy Land and The Gate to Faith -The Tanya compacts four millennia of Jewish wisdom to answer the great personal and existential questions of life.: Tanya Rabbi Shimon Eisenbach and Tel Aviv Museum of Art one of Two and Rabbi Kahane says to forget about Chanukah on this eighth and final day of Chanukah

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Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.

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Risks vs. benefits: What we know about COVID-19 vaccines and their side effects

While fatigue, headaches and muscle pain can be expected, clinical trials have shown that more serious reactions to inoculations are few and far between

By PAUL RICARD14 December 2020,

PARIS, France (AFP) — The distribution of the first vaccines for the coronavirus has raised hopes that the end of the pandemic may be in sight, but it has also sparked some concern about side effects.

Here's what we know so far.

What side effects?

Results from final-stage clinical trials of two of the frontrunner vaccines were published this week and both are considered safe.

Data for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine — already authorized in several countries — was released in the peer-reviewed scientific journal New England Journal of Medicine.

The drug is based on experimental technology that uses a synthetic version of a molecule called "messenger RNA" to hack into human cells and effectively turn them into vaccine-making factories.

Its trial involved 40,000 volunteers and suggested the vaccine provokes only mild side effects.

Some 80 percent of those vaccinated felt pain at the injection site. Many also felt fatigue, headache and muscle pain and some had temporarily swollen lymph nodes.

These side effects were more frequent and intense for young people.

A partnership between Oxford University and AstraZeneca uses a disabled virus — in this case a chimpanzee adenovirus — as a vehicle to carry the vaccine.

Their vaccine data — from trials involving some 23,000 volunteers — was published in another prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. The study found the vaccine is safe.

Pick and mix?

A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London, December 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)

Saying you prefer one vaccine to another is like saying you prefer chocolate ice cream to strawberry ice cream, according to virologist from the French national health-research institute (INSERM) Marie-Paule Kieny.

She told the French parliament citizens should be aware that the vaccines might "hurt the arm and induce fatigue," comparing the side effects to those children experience when they get a jab.

"It's unpleasant, for a day or so maybe, but these reactions are short-lived and if they are associated with a high level of protection I think it should be tolerable."

Rare events

Severe side effects for both vaccines have so far been extremely rare.

Only one patient who received the Oxford AstraZeneca jab had a "serious side effect possibly related" to the injection, according to the data in The Lancet.

The patient suffered from transverse myelitis, a rare neurological condition that causes inflammation of the spinal cord.

This provoked the temporary global shutdown of trials in early September.

A researcher in a laboratory at the Jenner Institute in Oxford, England, works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, November 23, 2020. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP, File)

Two other serious side effects were observed, although these have not been attributed to the jab.

Researchers said all three had recovered.

Four cases of Bell's palsy — a facial paralysis that is often temporary — were observed among 18,000 volunteers over two months in the Pfizer/BioNTech trial.

But the frequency is similar to that normally seen in the general population for this condition, so it is unclear whether the cases were provoked by the vaccine.

To be on the safe side, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended particular caution.

A laboratory technician supervises capped vials during filling and packaging tests for the large-scale production and supply of the University of Oxford's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, September 11, 2020. (Vincenzo PINTO / AFP)

There were eight cases of appendicitis in those who were administered the vaccine, double the amount for those who received the placebo one.

But the FDA put this down to a statistical coincidence, unrelated to the vaccine.

As for all medicine, the hypothesis of serious side effects cannot be ruled out. A substance is evaluated by weighing the benefits against the risks.

"It is completely acceptable to have a vaccine that is slightly more reactogenic, if its side effects are not severe," said vaccine expert for the French medicine agency (ANSM) Isabelle Parent.

What about allergies?

After Britain began administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine earlier this week, British health authorities said two patients had suffered adverse reactions.

Both were said to have serious allergic pathogens, to the extent they always carry adrenaline on them.

In response, British authorities warned anyone with "a history of a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food" to avoid taking the vaccine.

"For the general population this does not mean that they would need to be anxious about receiving the vaccination," Stephen Evans, pharmacoepidemiology professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Science Media Centre (SMC).

"One has to remember that even things like marmite can cause unexpected severe allergic reactions," he added.

Sandra Lindsay (L), a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester, at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, on December 14, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. (Mark Lennihan/Pool/AFP)

Those in charge of the clinical trial anticipated the risk, excluding volunteers with a history of severe allergic reactions to vaccines in general or to one of the vaccine's components.

Millions of people who suffer from allergies to common substances such as eggs and nuts do not appear to be allergic to the vaccine.

"It will be important to now understand the specific nature of the reactions and the background medical history of the individuals affected," Graham Ogg, interim director Oxford's Medical Research Council Human Immunology Unit told SMC.

In the long term

As the vaccines are new, scientists do not know for certain the potential long term side effects.

Although they might be authorized for emergency use because of the pandemic, their data will be continuously monitored by world health authorities so they can react immediately.

"As is normal for any vaccine, close and continued monitoring for safety and efficacy data as it is delivered will be essential," said Dr. Charlie Webber, head of vaccines for the charity Wellcome, according to SMC.

The Three Musketeers at the Kotel

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is almost undoubtedly one of the greatest museums of modern art in the world. With a massive newly opened wing, the museum has a great collection of works by both Israeli and leading international artists showcased in an incredible building.

Rabbi Meir Kahane Writings (5732-33) (1971-73)

Down with Chanukah

Written December 15, 1972

If I were a Reform rabbi; if I were a leader of the Establishment whose money and prestige have succeeded in capturing for him the leadership and voice of American Jewry; if I were one of the members of the Israeli Government's ruling group; if I were an enlightened sophisticated, modern Jewish intellectual, I would climb the barricades and join in the battle against the most dangerous of all Jewish holidays – Chanukah.

It is a measure of the total ignorance of the world Jewish community that there is no holiday that is more universally celebrated than the "Feast of Lights", and it is an equal measure of the intellectual dishonesty and of Jewish leadership that it plays along with the lie. For if ever there was a holiday that stands for everything that the mass of world Jewry and their leadership has rejected – it is this one. If one would find an event that is truly rooted in everything that Jews of our times and their leaders have rejected and, indeed, attacked – it is this one. If there is any holiday that is more "unJewish" in the sense of our modern beliefs and practices – I do not know of it.

The Chanukah that has erupted unto the world Jewish scene in all its childishness, asininity, shallowness, ignorance, and fraud – is not the Chanukah of reality. The Chanukah that came into vogue because of Jewish parents – in their vapidness – needed something to counteract Christmas; that exploded in a show of "we-can-have-lights-just-as-our-goyish-neighbors" and in an effort to reward our spoiled children with eight gifts instead of the poor Christian one; the Chanukah that the Temple, under its captive rabbi, turned into a school pageant so that the beaming parents might think that the Religious School is really successful instead of the tragic joke and waste that it really is; the Chanukah that speaks of Jewish Patrick Henrys giving-me-liberty-or death and the pictures of Maccabees as great liberal saviors who fought so that the kibbutzim might continue to be free to preach their Marx and eat their ham, that the split-level dwellers of suburbia might be allowed to violate their Sabbath in perfect freedom and the Reform and Conservative Temples continue the fight for civil rights for Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Jane Fonda, is not remotely connected with reality.

This is NOT the Chanukah of our ancestors, of the generations of Jews of Eastern Europe and Yemen and Morocco and the crusades and Spain and Babylon. It is surely not the Chanukah for which the Maccabees themselves died. Truly, could those whom we honor so munificently, return, and see what Chanukah has become, they might very well begin a second Maccabean revolt. For the life that we Jews lead today was the very cause, the REAL reason for the revolt of the Jews "in those days in our times."

What happened in that era more than 2000 years ago? What led a handful of Jews to rise up in violence against the enemy? And precisely who WAS the enemy? What were they fighting FOR and who were they fighting AGAINST?

For years, the people of Judea had been the vassals of Greece. True independence as a state had been unknown for all those decades and, yet, the Jews did not rise up in revolt. It was only when the Greek policy shifted from mere political control to one that attempted to suppress the Jewish religion that the revolt erupted in all its bloodiness. It was not mere liberty that led to the Maccabean uprising that we so passionately applaud. What we are really cheering is a brave group of Jews who fought and plunged Judea into a bloodbath for the right to observe the Sabbath, to follow the laws of kashruth, to obey the laws of the Torah. IN A WORD EVERYTHING ABOUT CHANUKAH THAT WE COMMEMORATE AND TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO COMMEMORATE ARE THINGS WE CONSIDER TO BE OUTMODED, MEDIEVAL AND CHILDISH!

At best, then, those who fought and died for Chanukah were naïve and obscurantist. Had we lived in those days we would certainly not have done what they did for everyone knows that the laws of the Torah are not really Divine but only the products of evolution and men (do not the Reform, Reconstructionist, and large parts of the Conservative movements write this daily?) Surely we would not have fought for that which we violate every day of our lives! No, at best Chanukah emerges as a needless holiday if not a foolish one. Poor Hannah and her seven children; poor Mattathias and Judah; poor well-meaning chaps all but hopelessly backward and utterly unnecessary sacrifices.

But there is more. Not only is Chanukah really a foolish and unnecessary holiday, but it is also one that is dangerously fanatical and illiberal. The first act of rebellion, the first enemy who fell at the hands of the brave Jewish heroes whom our delightful children portray so cleverly in their Sunday and religious school pageants, was NOT a Greek. He was a Jew.

When the enemy sent its troops into the town of Modin to set up an idol and demand its worship, it was a Jew who decided to exercise his freedom of pagan worship and who approached the altar to worship Zeus (after all, what business was it of anyone what this fellow worshipped?) And it was this Jew, this apostate, this religious traitor who was struck down by the brave, glorious, courageous (are these not the words all our Sunday schools use to describe him?) Mattathias, as he shouted: "Whoever is for G-d, follow me!"

What have we here? What kind of religious intolerance and bigotry? What kind of a man is this for the anti-religious of Hashomer Hatzair, the graceful temples of suburbia, the sophisticated intellectuals, the liberal open-minded Jews, and all the drones who have wearied us unto death with the concept of Judaism as a humanistic, open-minded, undogmatic, liberal, universalistic (if not Marxist) religion, to honor? What kind of nationalism is this for David-Ben-Gurion (he who rejects the Galut and speaks of the proud, free Jew of ancient Judea and Israel)?

And to crush us even more (we who know that Judaism is a faith of peace which deplores violence), what kind of Jews were those who reacted to oppression with FORCE? Surely we who so properly have deplored Jewish violence as fascistic, immoral, and (above all!) UN-JEWISH, stand in horror as we contemplate Jews who declined to picket the Syrian Greeks to death and who rejected quiet diplomacy for the sword, spear, and arrow (had there been bombs in those days, who can tell what they might have done?) and "descended to the level of evil," thus rejecting the ethical and moral concepts of Judaism.

Is this the kind of a holiday we wish to propagate? Are these the kinds of men we want our moral and humanistic children to honor? Is this the kind of Judaism that we wish to observe and pass on to our children?

Where shall we find the man of courage, the one voice, in the wilderness to cry out against Chanukah and the Judaism that it represents-the Judaism of our grandparents and ancestors? Where shall we find the man of honesty and integrity to attack the Judaism of Medievalism and outdated foolishness; the Judaism of bigotry that strikes down Jews who refuse to observe the law; the Judaism of violence that calls for Jewish force and might against the enemy? When shall we find the courage to proudly eat our Chinese food and violate our Sabbaths and reject all the separateness, nationalism, and religious maximalism that Chanukah so ignobly represents? …Down with Chanukah! It is a regressive holiday that merely symbolizes the Judaism that always was; the Judaism that was handed down to us from Sinai; the Judaism that made our ancestors ready to give their lives for the L-rd; the Judaism that young people instinctively know is true and great and real. Such Judaism is dangerous for us and our leaders. We must do all in our power to bury it.

The Tanya compacts four millennia of Jewish wisdom to answer the great personal and existential questions of life.



Rabbi Shimon Eisenbach

Creation effected absolutely no change in the Creator, neither in His Unity nor in His knowledge. This we learn from the verse, "I, Havayah, have not changed," as the Alter Rebbe explained in the preceding chapter. Though one might assume that by bringing created beings into existence G‑d's knowledge was supplemented — in that only after their creation did he become aware of them, so to speak — this in fact is not so, for G‑d's knowledge is wholly one with G‑d Himself.

G‑d's knowledge is thus entirely unlike man's. Acquired knowledge constitutes an addition to a mortal soul, which is a compound, not a simple and perfect unity. G‑d's Unity, by contrast, is perfect, without any superaddition. Accordingly, His unique manner of knowledge is such that by knowing Himself He knows all of creation, which derives from Him.

This knowledge of self existed before G‑d brought created beings into existence. By knowing them, therefore, nothing at all was added to His previous knowledge. And such a manner of knowledge, concluded the Alter Rebbe, is beyond the comprehension of man.

In the chapter before us, the Alter Rebbe goes on to explain that Maimonides' statement that "He is the Knowledge" applies not only to G‑d's knowledge, but also to all His other attributes and Names, including His Chochmah and will. They are all completely united with G‑d Himself.

והנה מה שכתב הרמב״ם ז״ל, שהקב״ה, מהותו ועצמותו ודעתו, הכל אחד ממש, אחדות פשוטה ולא מורכבת כלל

Now, what Maimonides (of blessed memory) has said1 — that the Holy One, blessed be He, His Essence and Being, and His knowledge are completely one, a perfect unity and not a composite at all, —

כן הענין ממש בכל מדותיו של הקב״ה, ובכל שמותיו הקדושים, והכנויים שכינו לו הנביאים וחז״ל, כגון: חנון ורחום וחסיד וכיוצא בהן

this applies equally to all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, and to all His holy Names, and the designations which the Prophets and Sages, of blessed memory have ascribed to Him, such as Gracious, Merciful, Beneficent, and the like.

וכן מה שנקרא חכם, דכתיב: וגם הוא חכם וגו׳

This is also true with respect to His being called Wise, as it is written,2 "And He is also wise,...";

וכן רצונו: כי רוצה ה׳ את יראיו, וחפץ חסד הוא, ורוצה בתשובתם של רשעים ואינו חפץ במיתתם וברשעתם, וטהור עינים מראות ברע

and likewise with respect to His will, [as it is written,3] "G‑d desires those who fear Him," and4 "He wishes to do kindness," and5 "He desires the repentance of the wicked and does not desire their death and wickedness," — thus we have verses indicating both what He finds desirable and undesirable; [so, too,6] "Your eyes are too pure to behold evil" — yet another thing that He does not desire.

From the above verses, then, we see that emotions, wisdom and will are all ascribed to G‑d. Nevertheless:

אין רצונו וחכמתו ומדת חסדו ורחמנותו ושאר מדותיו מוסיפים בו ריבוי והרכבה חס ושלום במהותו ועצמותו

His will and His wisdom and His attribute of kindness and His mercy and His other attributes do not add plurality and composition (G‑d forbid) to His Essence and Being,

אלא עצמותו ומהותו ורצונו וחכמתו ובינתו ודעתו, ומדת חסדו וגבורתו ורחמנותו ותפארתו הכלולה מחסדו וגבורתו

but His Being and Essence and His will and wisdom and understanding and knowledge, and His attribute of kindness and His might and mercy and beauty, [the last of] which is composed of His kindness and might,

וכן שאר מדותיו הקדושות, הכל אחדות פשוטה ממש, שהיא היא עצמותו ומהותו

and likewise His other holy attributes, — all the above, comprising his Being and Essence, and his will, and the Sefirot of ChaBaD and the middot, constitute an absolutely perfect unity, which is His very Being and Essence.


1. Yad HaChazakah, Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, 2:10.

2. Yeshayahu 31:2.

3. Tehillim 147:11.

4. Michah 7:18.

5. Cf. Yechezkel 18:23; Liturgy, Neilah.

6. Chavakuk 1:13.

A 'hidden Jew's' return: Dona Garcias, Tiberius, and the Talmud

How a hidden 'converso' Jew found her way back to Judaism, and ultimately journeyed to the Holy Land.

What Science Says About Vitamins and Supplements for Covid-19

Do vitamin D, melatonin, zinc, and vitamin C protect against Covid-19?

Robert Roy Britt

Robert Roy BritT

Dozens of studies are underway to determine whether supplements of common nutrients and vitamins could help ward off infections of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, or even treat the disease by reducing the dangerous inflammation it causes in the lungs and other organs. A few have proven promising. But the research is not yet conclusive on any supplements, and it's quite inconclusive for others. Meanwhile, scientists caution that too much of any nutrient can have negative side effects.

The greatest benefit of supplements is likely for people who suffer specific nutrient deficiencies.

"Deficiency in one of many essential nutrients can reduce the body's immune defenses, and fixing these deficiencies with supplements will then be beneficial," says Walter Willett, MD, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "It doesn't mean that continuing to increase intake [beyond the body's needs] will have further benefit."

Think of a car missing a wheel. Replacing the fourth wheel will make the car work much better, Willett notes, but adding a fifth wheel won't offer any additional benefit and can actually hamper performance. If you eat well and get enough vitamin D — more on that below — you likely have all the nutrients necessary to build a healthy immune system, and adding extra nutrients doesn't make you extra healthy.

But the vast majority of Americans don't meet basic dietary guidelines. "I think it is reasonable for most people to take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement as a nutritional safety net," Willett tells Elemental, adding that doing so was important for many people before Covid, "and it is more important now." That holds true for both prevention and if you catch the disease. However, if you have Covid-19, you should discuss any supplements or other treatments with a health care provider. And if you're taking any medications or have any underlying health issues, it's important to seek a physician's advice on preventive supplements, too.

Here are the handful of supplements under the most intense study for effectiveness against the coronavirus:

Vitamin C

The logic: Vitamin C is a known antioxidant that bolsters the immune system and, in general, helps prevent inflammation.

General evidence: Vitamin C is thought to help protect against some viral and bacterial infections and lessen symptoms of infections, but evidence on the vitamin's role even in preventing the common cold is often conflicting. A small study (167 patients) done before Covid-19 existed found that vitamin C infusions during hospital care reduced mortality and cut down on ICU stays for people suffering severe acute respiratory failure and sepsis, which is a dangerous cascade of inflammation throughout the body triggered by an infection. Both of those conditions are leading causes of Covid-19 death.

Covid-19 evidence: Vitamin C might help prevent Covid-19 and also lessen the inflammatory reactions behind some severe Covid-19 cases, according to a review of research on the topic published in the latest issue of the journal Nutrition. But the study authors state clearly that only clinical trials — at least a dozen of which are underway — would prove their suspicions.

"We definitely don't want to be deficient, but I am not optimistic about any benefit of higher doses," Willett says.

Dosage: U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 75 to 120 milligrams per day (toward the lower for most adults and the higher end for breastfeeding women).

How to get some: Just eat your fruits and veggies and you'll be fine. One cup of strawberries, red peppers, broccoli, or many other fruits or vegetables gives you all you need.

Risks: While generally considered safe even in high doses, way too much vitamin C — anything above 2,000 milligrams daily—can cause headaches, insomnia, diarrhea, heartburn, and other issues.

"I think it is reasonable for most people to take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement as a nutritional safety net, and it is more important now."

Vitamin D

The logic: Vitamin D is known to help keep bones strong and might bolster the function of immune cells. It's unusual among vitamins in that it's rare in foods but is produced by sunlight in the skin and then converted to its usable form in the kidneys. Around 35% to 40% of U.S. adults are thought to have a vitamin D deficiency, and the rate is higher in Black people. However, there is no agreed-upon standard for what constitutes mild, moderate, or severe deficiency.

General evidence: A 2019 review of existing clinical trials indicated vitamin D supplements can reduce the severity of acute respiratory tract infections in hospitalized patients.

Covid-19 evidence: A study early this year of 20 European countries found a link between low levels of vitamin D and higher percentages of Covid-19 cases and mortality. Separately, more than 80% of 200 people hospitalized for Covid-19 in Spain were found to be deficient in vitamin D, according to a study published in October in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

"Vitamin D treatment should be recommended in Covid-19 patients with low levels of vitamin D circulating in the blood since this approach might have beneficial effects in both the musculoskeletal and the immune system," said the Spanish study's co-author, José Hernández, PhD, of the University of Cantabria in Spain. Neither study can say for sure that the deficiency causes the negative outcomes or whether other factors are involved — such as people with the deficiency having other underlying health conditions, or lacking health insurance or access to hospitals.

Yet another study actually tested the effects of vitamin D on Covid-19 patients by adding it to the treatment for one group and not another. Among 26 people who didn't get the vitamin, half ended up in the intensive care unit and two died. Among the 50 people who got the vitamin, one went to ICU and none died. The results require follow-up research to be conclusive, the scientists wrote in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Willett calls vitamin D the "most promising" supplement under study for Covid protection.

Dosage: The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 600 IU (international units) daily. But there's no firm agreement on this. "I think 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day will get most people out of the deficiency zone and is safe," Willett says.

How to get some: About 20 minutes of daily sunshine on 40% of exposed skin produces ample vitamin D in general, but such estimates are gross generalities. Dark-skinned people need more exposure to produce the same amount of the vitamin.

Food sources: Salmon (444 IU in three ounces) and other oily fish are excellent sources, as are eggs (44 IU per egg), along with fortified foods including milk and some cereals. If you don't get out much or don't have an ideal diet, then: "I think it is reasonable for most people, especially if they have darker skin, to take a [vitamin D] supplement," Willett says. Note, however, that if you choose a multivitamin, your D-vitamin needs may be covered, so be careful not to let the total exceed 4,000 IU.

Risks: Too much exposure to sun, particularly during midday and especially if it causes sunburns, raises the risk of skin cancer. Excess vitamin D via supplements — anything over 4,000 IU, increases the risk of reversing the beneficial effects, including upping the odds of bone fractures. In rare cases, way too much can be outright toxic.


The logic: Melatonin is a powerful hormone whose production is triggered in the brain by darkness, signaling sleep time. It also supports a healthy immune system directly, and the sleep it promotes is key to a strong immune system. Lack of time outside in bright daylight — a common modern issue — confuses the brain's biological clock, reducing melatonin production.

General evidence: An overview of immune system benefits from melatonin supplements, published last year in the journal Cell Death & Disease, touted its powerful antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory effects. In a study of mice in the Journal of Functional Foods, scientists found "the anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects of melatonin may provide a beneficial effect" in treating influenza, which like Covid-19 is primarily a respiratory disease. The role of naturally produced melatonin in sleep is vital, and sleep loss — for just one night and more over time — raises the risk of infections generally, much research finds. Specifically, it reduces the production of proteins and antibodies that fight infections.

Covid-19 evidence: Taking melatonin supplements was linked to a 30% reduction in the likelihood of testing positive for Covid-19 in a November study of data from the Cleveland Clinic, published in the journal PLOS Biology. The reduction was 52% for Black people. Other evidence in the study suggests melatonin might also be effective in treating Covid-19. "I think this data is interesting, but like much other SARS-CoV-2 data, it needs to be further validated with placebo-controlled, randomized controlled studies," says Melissa Badowski, PharmD, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, who was not involved in the study. "We also do not know if these individuals were practicing mask-wearing, hand hygiene, or social distancing. I think there may be a signal, but a lot more research is needed to prove if this signal is valid or not."

Dosage: There is no federal RDA nor any formal advice on supplement dose ranges. Some countries treat melatonin as a drug rather than a dietary supplement and regulate it accordingly. If you take a supplement, be careful: Too much can cause daytime sleepiness. Ann Pressler, a nurse practitioner at the Cleveland Clinic, says 0.5 to three milligrams should be sufficient. Others advise up to five milligrams.

How to get some: Being outside at least two hours in bright, natural light helps keep the body's biological clock tuned up and on time, so it makes sufficient melatonin… in the late evening when it's supposed to make you drowsy.

Risks: Side effects of melatonin supplements include headache, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness during the day, and in rarer cases anxiety, low blood pressure and other effects — especially in doses above 10 milligrams. It can interact negatively with some medications, including diabetes medicine. Also, the actual ingredients in some supplements, which are unregulated by the federal government, are notoriously unpredictable. A 2017 study found the melatonin content was off by more than 10% compared to what the labels claimed in 71% of 30 supplements analyzed, ranging from 83% less to nearly five times more.


The logic: Zinc helps the body fight bacterial and viral infections. But most people get plenty of zinc in their diets (though vegetarians and people who drink a lot of alcohol may not). Despite being touted as a coronavirus treatment, it's well behind the pack of other options above.

General evidence: "Oral zinc supplements might benefit people with low levels of zinc," according to the Mayo Clinic. "Taken soon after cold symptoms appear, zinc might also shorten the length of a cold."

Covid-19 evidence: Clinical studies are underway to determine if zinc can help treat Covid-19, but for now, "there are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of zinc for the treatment of Covid-19," the National Institutes of Health states.

"This falls in the category of 'necessary to avoid deficiency, but less promising in higher doses,'" Willett says.

Dosage: Eight milligrams for women, 11 for men. A healthy, varied diet should provide all you need.

How to get some: Oysters and other shellfish, red meat, and poultry are all good options. Other less-effective sources include beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dairy. Cereals are often fortified with zinc.

Risks: Short-term side effects of zinc supplements include indigestion, headache, and vomiting, and zinc can interfere with some drugs, including antibiotics, blood thinners, and some arthritis medications. Over time, too much zinc can cause copper deficiencies, blood diseases, and nerve damage.

How to maintain your immune system naturally

The longer list of supplements and alternative remedies promoted for Covid-19 prevention or treatment, without sustaining evidence nor much if any formal research, includes vitamins A and B, herbal teas, essential oils, oleander, tinctures, and colloidal silver.

"There is no scientific evidence that any of these alternative remedies can prevent or cure Covid-19," states the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. "In fact, some of them may not be safe to consume."

The smartest bet is to take reasonable steps to maintain a healthy immune system by eating well and staying physically active, both of which promote better sleep, adding up to a trio of immunity benefits, says Suzanne Cassel, MD, an immunologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "You actually don't want your immune system to be stronger, you want it to be balanced," Cassel says. "Too much of an immune response is just as bad as too little response."

If you worry you might have a nutrient deficiency, consult a physician. Otherwise: "Wash your hands, wear a mask, and socially distance," Badowski advises. "I would recommend this before turning to supplements that we are not sure actually work."


See you Sunday bli neder Shabbat Shalom

We need Moshiach now on this final eighth-day of Chanukah

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

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