Vitamin D can help to fight off the coronavirus, according to a new study.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin say it plays a crucial role in preventing respiratory infections, such as Covid-19.
Vitamin D is produced in the skin by exposing the body to 10 or 15 minutes of sun a day.
However, one in eight Irish adults under the age of 50 is deficient in it.
This deficiency can be treated by supplements and eating certain foods.
Vitamin D is readily found in foods like eggs, liver and oily fish – such as salmon or mackerel – as well as fortified foods such as cereals and dairy products.
The research was carried out by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College Dublin.
Speaking about the study, Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA, said:’We have evidence to support a role for Vitamin D in the prevention of chest infections, particularly in older adults who have low levels. In one study Vitamin D reduced the risk of chest infections to half in people who took supplements.
"Though we do not know specifically of the role of Vitamin D in COVID infections, given its wider implications for improving immune responses and clear evidence for bone and muscle health, those cocooning and other at-risk cohorts should ensure they have an adequate intake of Vitamin D.
In Ireland, Vitamin D can only be made by the body between late March and late September. It can not be made in winter, and the amount produced by the body depends on how much sun is available and other factors.
Even in summer, getting a sufficient amount of Vitamin D can pose a challenge due to cloud cover, rainy weather and a lack of sunshine.