Vitamin D deficiency in Dublin says TCD study

Geneva Pattison

A recent medical and geographical study released from Trinity College Dublin has revealed that a large pro-portion of the population in urban areas are deficient in vitamin D.

This study, conducted over five years, was a joint effort involving research from the School of Medicine in TCD, Mercer’s Institute for Research on Ageing in St James’s Hospital and the Department of Biochemistry in St James’s Hospital.

Overall, the gender demographics found that more males had a vitamin D deficiency than females. Strikingly, the age demographics showed that the measurements of those youngest, in the 18-39 age category, matched the measurements of the oldest people in the over 90 age category, for having the highest vitamin D deficiency.

The research findings also state that an alarming “one in four adults were deficient in vitamin D in Winter” in metropolitan areas. The numbers showed further disparities when socioeconomic factors were brought in, with those from less affluent backgrounds being highly likely to be deficient in vitamin D.

The stark revelations in the paper also state that people who work night shifts, those who work in an indoor setting and people who are housebound, are at great-er risk of developing a severe vitamin D deficiency.

As mentioned in the paper, vitamin D is “unique as it is the only vitamin that can be synthesised endogenously via the action of ultraviolet-B light on the skin.” In other words, the body generates the vitamin by absorbing sunlight.

Researchers found that from October to March, that “little or no vitamin D” can be naturally produced in the body in places situated above 30° north of the equator, or below 30° south of the equator. The latitude of the entire island of Ireland falls under this description and as a result, in the winter months vitamin D can only be attained through dietary absorption.

The paper asserts that in Ireland “it is difficult to reach the recommended daily intake (10 μg/day) as sources in the diet (such as oily fish) are limited or not often consumed.” To achieve better levels of vitamin D consumption in Ireland, the research paper also puts forward the idea that “mandatory fortification may be necessary to address this widespread inadequacy.”

The findings of this report have come at a very poignant time, as we move closer to the winter months and are still in the midst of a pandemic. Similar studies on the relationship between a higher vitamin D consumption and less severe Covid-19 symptoms, have been undertaken across the globe.

Ivor Cummins, Irish Biomedical Engineer and creator of The Fat Emperor website, has examined some of these studies on vitamin D deficiency on his podcast. One episode in particular addresses the issue of a country’s latitude in relation to vitamin D absorption rates, as shown through research linked on The Fat Emperor site.

Ivor highlights the link between the usual corona viruses and seasonality. In layman’s terms, the fact that corona viruses always have a higher mortality rate during the winter months.

Ivor goes on to talk about the rates of severity of Covid-19 symptoms, based on figures from an Indonesian study.

The figures showed that people who were deficient in vitamin D were 10 times more likely to die from the virus, as opposed to those who had adequate amounts stored in their system (around 30 micrograms).

An interesting point is highlighted by Ivor, in relation to the possibility that a person’s vitamin D intake is not solely dependent on a country’s latitude. When comparing Italy with Japan, with both countries situated in the Northern Hemisphere, Japan has fared better in the fight against Covid. Italy’s population stands at around 60.36 million, its Covid-19 cases to date are around 300,000, with 35,724 Covid-19 deaths. Japan’s population is approximately 126.5 million, with 79,140 Covid-19 cases thus far and only 1,500 deaths from the virus. The differences in the numbers are significant, but what made Japan incur a less severe death toll?

Ivor picks up on this point, dis-cussing the role diet and fitness play when paired with vitamin D levels. There is wider and more regular consumption of fatty fish in Japan, as opposed to most European countries. Eating fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel or herring regularly is a great natural source of vitamin D for people, along with essential B vitamins.

This notable point from the podcast drives home the necessity to receive vitamin D from a mixture of sources. Supplementation may not be the most effective way to up your vitamin D levels alone. However, it is possible that over-the-counter vitamin D may improve your chances against viruses.

In episode 79 of The Fat Emperor podcast, with guest Rahul Kalippurayil Moozhipurath, the discussion addresses a person’s UV absorption and Covid-19 out-comes, based on their ethnicity. It’s revealed that where a Caucasian person may only need 10 minutes of full sun exposure to attain a better vitamin D status, people from certain ethnic minorities would need an hour or more in full sun, to absorb adequate levels.

Rahul explains that this is because the melanin in darker skin makes it difficult for the sun’s rays to penetrate the skin, for vitamin D to be produced. As mentioned in the podcast, this point is important to consider, given the disproportionate number of deaths within the black, indiginous and Latin communities, especially in America.

When compared with Caucasion death numbers from Cov-id-19, the black community were 3.4 times more likely to die from Covid-19.

NewsFour reached out to Ivor Cummins for further comment on the subject: “Several analyses from around the world now align in showing a dramatic link between vitamin D deficiency and severity of Covid-19 outcomes/probability of death. There is a lesser linkage to ‘likelihood of becoming infected’.

Interestingly, the first randomised control trial of high-dose vitamin D and Covid-19 impacts has returned a dramatic result: the probability of requiring ICU treatment was massively reduced for the people who received vitamin D, when compared to the placebo group. Although small numbers were enrolled for this trial, the results are nonetheless extraordinary, and provide a clear imperative to carry out further investigations as a matter of urgency.”

To read more about the studies mentioned in this article, visit the links below:

Link to the Trinity research on geo mapping Dublin’s vitamin D:

Link to Ep.74 of The Fat Emperor Podcast on latitudes and vitamin D:

Link to PDF of research dis-cussed in episode 74 of The Fat Emperor Podcast below:

Link to Ep.79 of The Fat Emperor Podcast on Covid-19 & UV flux with guest Rahul Kalip-purayil Moozhipurath:

Link to numbers of American deaths by Covid-19, measured by race and ethnicity:

Link to read the Indonesian study on the link between Vitamin D and Covid-19: