Researchers at Trinity College are calling on the Irish Government to encourage people to take Vitamin D supplements during the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that sufficient levels of the vitamin can lessen the severity of the virus.
Dr. Eamon Laird and Professor Rose Anne Kennedy have been leading a study that examines Vitamin D levels and mortality from COVID-19 and they argue that Vitamin D can boost immune systems and help stave off the worst effects of the virus.
They urged the Irish Government to follow governments in Wales, Scotland and England, and recommend that Irish people take Vitamin D supplements.
Professor Rose Anne Kennedy said that there was strong circumstantial evidence that Vitamin D could reduce the danger of COVID-19.
"Whereas there are currently no results from randomized controlled trials to conclusively prove that vitamin D beneficially affects COVID-19 outcomes, there is strong circumstantial evidence of associations between vitamin D and the severity of COVID-19 responses, including death," she said.
She said that Vitamin D deficiency was commonplace in Ireland and called on the Irish Government to urge all Irish adults to take supplements during the pandemic.
Kennedy and Laird pointed to Norway, Sweden, and Finland, where populations commonly boast high Vitamin D levels and COVID-19 death rates have been relatively low.
Countries like Spain and Italy, on the other hand, have high levels of Vitamin D deficiency and have recorded large death tolls during the pandemic.
Laird argued that, at the very worst, boosting Vitamin D levels will optimize bone and muscle health.
"Here we see observational evidence of a link of vitamin D with mortality. Optimizing vitamin D intake to public health guidelines will certainly have benefits for overall health and support immune function.
"Research like this is still exploratory and we need further trials to have concrete evidence on the level of vitamin D that is needed for optimal immune function. However, studies like this also remind us how low our vitamin D status is in the population."
The researchers argued that Vitamin D may regulate the body's inflammatory cytokine response, which causes the severe effects of COVID-19 that leads to ventilation and death.