D-Day for Ireland

On April 8th all people in Ireland were told to supplement 20-25mcg (1000iu) a day of vitamin D to help protect them from COVID-19. Higher doses may be necessary for the vulnerable. This advice is from their Health Committee, Oireachtas, which advises the Department of Health. The Chairman stated: “As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, international studies, and the experience of Finland in particular, show just how effective daily vitamin D supplementation can be when it is implemented as part of an enhanced public health policy.

“The State needs to review preventative measures that might have led to fewer mortalities and lower morbidity. In that regard, the role of Vitamin D needs to be addressed as part of an enhanced public health policy to protect the population against respiratory infections and other illnesses.” Oireachtas are recommending that vitamin D be made widely available, and given out at testing centres.

Will the UK follow suit? Just like Ireland over a quarter of all citizens are vitamin D deficient, but this rises to one in two in the BAME community during winter. The NHS share patient data with Oxford University’s Big Data Institute. This includes hundreds of thousands of patient’s vitamin D levels, which could easily be associated with their incidence, severity and mortality from COVID-19. Why is this basic research not being done and acted on? Finland has one tenth the covid mortality and one of the lowest rates of vitamin D deficiency due to both widespread supplementation and food fortification.

Currently, the UK haven’t endorsed the role of vitamin D in reducing risk, severity and mortality from COVID-19, but do recommend everyone take 400iu during the winter which is the standard ‘bone-friendly’ intake. But this is not enough to correct deficiency or bring blood levels into the range of 75-125nmol/l which equates to lower risk. Many people need 1,000 to 4,000iu to achieve this, the higher level being necessary in winter. Professor of Medical Gerontology in Dublin, Rose Kenny, said public health officials here agree that taking “up to 4,000 ius per day” is safe. “I am reassured that there is no downside”, she said.

The Irish advice is also not related specifically to winter, but to provide protection all year round to help reduce the risk a third wave. “This supplementation represents a safe, practical, and effective means of protecting human health.” They say – but will the UK’s Department of Health?

More Information

Irish Times Report.

Are you Getting Enough Vitamin D?

My Podcast on Vitamin D with Dr William Grant.