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Medical experts across Ireland’s leading universities outline compelling evidence for health professionals and policymakers to revise guidance on vitamin D supplementation amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
A position paper, published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science, has urged policymakers to recognise the protective role of vitamin D against COVID-19 infection.
The paper outlines how vitamin D deficiency is an easily reversible host factor that increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, after emerging evidence showed deficiency can worsen disease severity.
The authors of the paper urge policymakers to re-examine whether vitamin D supplementation can significantly lessen these risks and update its public health guidance for the Irish population.
There are three main sources of vitamin D: sunlight, food and supplements.
Research shows that the ability of the skin to produce vitamin D is compromised at northerly latitudes, especially in those who are older or in those who have a darker skin pigmentation.
Vitamin D deficiency is also common in those who are obese, and in older and black populations, while deficiency may also affect infection risk and severity of virus infection through its effects on immune function.
Research from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) reports that up to 43% of adults over 50 in Ireland have insufficient vitamin D levels to counteract SARS-CoV-2 in winter and spring.
Ireland’s far latitude geographic location does not provide sufficient levels of vitamin D throughout the year, while previous studies have indicated that vitamin D deficiency is relatively common in Ireland and can affect all age groups.