Irish studies find that Vitamin D can help fight Covid-19

Beth Molloy

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) has found that the intake of Vitamin D may boost resistance to Covid-19, or reduce the severity of the illness in those already infected.

The report published by TILDA finds that 13 per cent of adults over the age of fifty and 27 per cent of adults over the age of 70 are vitamin D deficient all year round.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Irish Medical Journal by researchers from Trinity College and Technological University Dublin (TUD) recommends that Irish adults take between 20-50 micro-grams of Vitamin D a day.

In a press release, Dr Daniel McCartney, a lecturer in Human Nutrition and Dietetics in TU Dublin claims Vitamin D can enhance the body’s resistance to respiratory infections but Vitamin D deficiency is common in older people, nursing home residents and hospital patients.

Vitamin D is made in the body by exposure to the sun for just ten to fifteen minutes a day. However, in Ireland it can only be produced between late March and September.

As a result, people over the age of seventy who are currently ‘cocooning’ may be at risk of not producing enough Vitamin D.

On top of this, TILDA’s research found that only 4% of men and 15% of women take a Vitamin D supplement.

The report says that “because of ‘cocooning’ many may now lack the opportunity for sun exposure and given the low use of supplements, many of this vulnerable group could be at very high risk of deficiency.”

“Everyone in Ireland should be taking 10 micro-grams of Vitamin D a day according to our public health body, the Food Safety Authority Ireland,” Dr Eamon Laird, the report’s co-author, told The College View.

Dr Laird, a research fellow in Medical Gerontology continued that,”for those cocooning, it’s hard to get to the shops to buy food rich in Vitamin D, plus it’s difficult to get out for ten to fifteen minutes of sunshine, so it would be a good idea for these people to take a supplement.”

Dr Laird also suggests that Ireland needs a formal vitamin D food policy. “In Finland, certain products are mandated to be fortified with vitamin D by the government,” he continued, “We could easily have a similar policy in Ireland.”

Beth Molloy

Image Credit: Trinity College