Dear Editor (Irish Medical Times), Data from all over the world show that more than 80 per cent of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 are vitamin D deficient compared with the general population.
In a small study by Drs Jose Manuel Quesada Gomez and Luis Manuel Entrenasa in Spain, they showed high-dose vitamin D appeared to reduce the severity of Covid-19.
More recently, a consensus is emerging amongst doctors that we should all take vitamin D supplements, especially as many of our female patients are blocking out the sun with the widespread use of sun protection factor (SPF) in cosmeceuticals. This is even more important as Ireland gets a few sunny days anyway.
To address this long-standing problem, free vitamin D supplements will be sent to over two million clinically vulnerable people in England this winter. However, research shows that a third of people do not take the pills they are given.
It is now time both Ireland and the United Kingdom go further and fortify basic food such as flour and milk with vitamin D, which is common practice in Canada, Sweden, Finland and Australia. Taking vitamin D reduces the risk of fractures, improves muscle function, and reduces the risk of death from cancer.
I am aware that there may be a counterargument that this may violate the freedom of some people and excess vitamin D can cause other minor problems. However, fortifying essential food with sensible amounts of vitamin D is a cheap intervention that would have an important health benefit during this present Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Patrick Treacy Medical Director, Ailesbury Clinics Ltd, Clonskeagh, Co Dublin