The promotion of Vitamin D is key to our battle on Covid in the winter months, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Emer Higgins is calling on the Government to do more to promote the take up of Vitamin D in the population and to assist people in vulnerable groups to obtain it.
Deputy Higgins said, “As we face into the winter months with rising case numbers, we must do more to promote the use of Vitamin D to help protect the population against Covid-19.
“A new HSE led public awareness campaign on the benefits of Vitamin D would be extremely helpful at this juncture.
“Global studies show us that Vitamin D supplements are proven to help us fight infection and recover from illness, however Ireland currently has too low a take up of Vitamin D,” said Deputy Higgins.
“A recent study by the School of Biological and Health Sciences at the Technological University Dublin suggests that low vitamin D status may be associated with poorer clinical outcomes and increased mortality among those who are hospitalised with Covid-19. So we know that increasing Vitamin D intake among the population is crucial.
“However a report this year by the Oireachtas Health Committee found that 47 per cent of people aged 18-39 in Ireland are deficient in Vitamin D while thirty-five per cent of 50-59 year olds are also deficient.
“And in the older population and among those who have darker skin tone, deficiency is more severe with 64% of over 80s and over 67% of nursing home residents being deficient while 93% of the BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) community are also deficient,” continued Deputy Higgins.
“Considering what we know about Vitamin D’s role in infection prevention and recovery, I don’t think our level of deficiency bodes well for our rising covid numbers as we move into the darker winter months.
“The vaccine and other public health measures offer us a strong line of defence against Covid-19 but Vitamin D supplements can offer yet another avenue of protection against severe illness or death.
“I would like to see us providing free Vitamin D supplements to elderly and immunocompromised groups to ensure cost is not a barrier to Vitamin D take up.
“And in line with the Oireachtas Health Committee report, I believe Government should be advocating for a supplementation of 20-25 micrograms of Vitamin D per day for the entire adult population, and higher doses for vulnerable groups under medical supervision
“It’s time to increase our take up rates of Vitamin D as part of the wider measures to help us overcome Covid-19 through the winter months,” Deputy Higgins concluded.