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New research suggests Vitamin D can reduce severity of Covid-19 symptoms

Vitamin D is present in foods such as oily fish, cheese and egg yolks.

Sunlight is essential to Vitamin D production.
Sunlight is essential to Vitamin D production.
Image: Shutterstock/Allen Paul Photography

A NEW STUDY carried out by researchers at Trinity College Dublin has pointed to a link between lower levels of vitamin D and the severity of infection in those who contract Covid-19. 

Vitamin D is produced when sunlight is absorbed by the skin, and is a vitamin lacking in many Irish people due to the more limited exposure to sunlight in Ireland compared to other countries. 

A new study from Dr Eamon Laird at the School of Medicine in Trinity College and Professor Rose Anne Kenny from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), along with researchers at the University of Liverpool have shone a light on the link between vitamin D and Covid-19. 

An article on the study published in Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics reports large discrepancies in mortality rates around the world when compared to vitamin D levels at different latitudes.

It documents the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in northern hemisphere countries, such as Ireland and the UK, and the possible role vitamin D plays in suppressing the severe inflammatory responses seen in very ill Covid-19  patients and in Covid-19 deaths. 

Countries in the Northern Hemisphere such as Italy and Spain have seen some of the highest levels of mortality from the virus while countries like Australia in the Southern Hemisphere have seen a much lower mortality rate.

To date, Spain has recorded 474 deaths per million of the population, while further North, the UK has recorded 276 deaths per million of the population. 

Meanwhile, both Australia and New Zealand have recorded a much lower rate of three deaths per million of the population in each country. 

Ireland has recorded 156 deaths per million of the population. 

“Vitamin D has many benefits for bone and muscle health and the immune system, in addition to a potentially critical role in suppression of the severe pro-inflammatory response which characterises severe Covid-19 complications,” Professor Rose Anne Kenny, TCD, said. 

“Public Health England, and the Scottish and Welsh governments have issued recommendations for supplements for all adults from March to October, and supplementation all year round for adults living in care homes or nursing homes.

“Similar public health recommendations are called for in Ireland. This advice is of importance given high mortality rates for SARS-CoV-2 infection in our nursing home sector.”

Vitamin D is also present in foods such as oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), cheese, egg yolks and beef liver.

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