Vitamin D could help fight off COVID-19: new Tilda research
The full press release is available here
- New TILDA research highlights the key role of Vitamin D in the body’s immune response to fight infection, and emphasises the importance of increasing intake while staying at home/’cocooning’.
- 27% of Irish adults over 70 who are ‘cocooning’ are estimated to be deficient
Researchers from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin, have released a crucial report today in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.
‘Vitamin D deficiency in Ireland – implications for COVID 19. Results from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)’ finds that Vitamin D plays a critical role in preventing respiratory infections, reducing antibiotic use, and boosting our immune system’s response to infections.
With one in eight Irish adults under 50 deficient in Vitamin D, the report highlights the importance of increasing intake.
How is Vitamin D produced?
Vitamin D is produced in the skin by exposing the body to just 10-15 minutes per day of sun. In Ireland Vitamin D can only be made between late March and late September. It cannot be made in winter, and the amount that we make in summer depends on how much sun we get, weather and other factors. Even in summer, getting a sufficient amount of Vitamin D can pose a challenge due to cloud cover, rainy weather and a lack of sunshine.
The good news is that deficiency can be remedied by adequate intake of foods and by supplementation. Vitamin D is readily found in foods like eggs, liver, oily fish - such as salmon or mackerel, as well as fortified foods such as cereals and dairy products.
Is the Irish population getting enough?
TILDA researchers have found there is insufficient daily intake of the vitamin across Ireland.
Some of TILDA’s key findings are:
- 47% of all adults over 85 are deficient in winter
- 27% of adults over 70 who are ‘cocooning’ are estimated to be deficient
- 1 in 8 adults over 50 are deficient all year round
- Only 4% of men and 15% of women take a Vitamin D supplement.
Who is most at risk of Vitamin D deficiency?
People who get little sun exposure or eat inadequate amounts of fortified foods are most at risk, especially those who are currently housebound or confined to their homes. Other people who fall into the high risk category are people who are obese or physically inactive, and those that have asthma or chronic lung disease. Vitamin D is available without prescription. What is needed now is for people to increase their Vitamin D intake, especially as supplementation is low across the nation, and particularly low in men.
What is the recommended intake for Vitamin D?
TILDA researchers recommend that adults over 50 should take supplements not just in winter, but all year round if they don’t get enough sun. Those who are ‘cocooning’ at present should also take supplements.
Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA, said:
Dr. Eamon Laird, Research Fellow in Medical Gerontology and co-author of the report, said: