Supplements get a mixed press. There are the people who are resolute about the benefits reaped from their daily dose of vitamins and minerals, and then there are the reports that conclude the supplement habit is, at best a waste of money, at worst something that is potentially damaging to health.
But not all supplements are equal. More evidence is emerging that there’s one that could help us in the fight against Covid-19. Readily available, and for just some 5c a tablet, this isn’t some new wonder drug — it’s vitamin D.
You’ve probably heard of vitamin D. You’re also probably deficient in it, simply due to the latitude we live at.
“We rely on the sun to help our body make vitamin D,” explains Orla Walsh, registered dietitian and member of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute.
“Sunshine, not food, is where most of our vitamin D comes from. It’s rather difficult to meet our vitamin D needs through food, which is why a supplement is so often required when living in Ireland, especially from Halloween to St Patrick’s Day.”
Older people — especially those who have been cocooning in recent months — are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D as they have less exposure to sunlight but also because, as the skin thins with age, vitamin D synthesis becomes less efficient.
However, a study of 36,000 people at St James’s Hospital in Dublin also revealed that 18pc of 18 to 39-year-olds had low levels of this essential nutrient and hormone.
Growing infants need additional vitamin D for bone strength. If you’re overweight or obese, have darker skin pigmentation, are vegetarian or vegan, a smoker or diagnosed with diabetes and some other pre-existing disease conditions — you’re more likely to be deficient in vitamin D.
It can be found in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, eggs and liver and some foods, like breakfast cereals and milks, have vitamin D added.
“You can even fortify your own mushrooms with vitamin D by leaving them in direct sunlight during summer months for 30 to 60 minutes, which is good news for…
Read More: The truth about Vitamin D and Covid-19