Vitamin D deficiency in up to 25% of Dublin's poorer residents, study finds
People in poorer parts of Dublin are not getting enough of the sunshine vitamin to keep bones, hearts and bodies healthy.
Researchers have found that as many as one in four people in the most deprived and ethnically diverse areas of the capital do not get enough vitamin D.
The study by experts in Trinity College and St James's Hospital revealed that parts of Dublin 8 such as the Liberties, Kilmainham, Dolphin's Barn, Inchicore and Rialto and parts of Lucan had a deficiency rate twice as bad as the city as a whole.
Poverty is an issue due to the cost of foods abundant in the vitamin including oily fish and fortified foods while ethnicity also plays a part due to skin pigmentation, lifestyles, clothing and diet.
Vitamin D, essential for healthy bones and helping to tackle rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and inflammatory conditions, is primarily absorbed from ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Dr Eamon Laird, author of the study and research fellow at the Centre for Medical Gerontology at Trinity, said: "Our findings provide useful data to help inform public health policy regarding endemic vitamin D insufficiency to help target the population groups and resident location areas most at risk."
Dr Laird cited poverty, lifestyles, tradition and ethnic differences as some of the issues behind vitamin D deficiency.
"Other studies have shown an association between social deprivation and lower vitamin D, possibly due to diet as vitamin D-rich foods such as oily fish or fortified foods tend to be more expensive," he said.
"Also, these locations in Dublin are more ethnically diverse compared to other areas, with higher numbers of non-Caucasians. Increased skin pigmentation plus ethnic lifestyle choices such as traditional clothing and/or dietary habits can also increase the risk of deficiency."
The issue of people in poorer areas being more prone to deficiency is not new and the numbers are similar to what is seen across Europe.
But the study of more than 5,200 people in Greater Dublin found one in eight did not have enough vitamin D and in winter the rate jumped by almost 3%.
It also found women had significantly higher levels of vitamin D concentration than males, 25% higher on average, while people aged 18 to 50 had as much as 27% less of the sunshine vitamin than the over 50s.
The researchers said these findings were contrary to a popular perception that vitamin D is a greater problem for older adults and the elderly.