'The only fish I eat is out of the chipper' - Residents in Dublin's Liberties are the most vitamin D deficient in Ireland
Published 02/11/2016 | 09:22
One in eight people in the greater Dublin area is deficient in vitamin D which is essential for strong bones and also linked to conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
However, the level of deficiency is five times higher in some areas with people in the most socially deprived and ethnically diverse areas such as Dublin 8 and Lucan showing the greatest shortage.
The research, carried out by Trinity College and St James's Hospital, said deficiencies in the vitamin, made by our body under the skin in reaction to sunlight, will increase during the winter.
Lead author Dr Martin Healy of Trinity College, said: "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 which tend to be more expensive. 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 dietary habits can also increase the risk of deficiency."
Females had higher levels of vitamin D than males - around 25pc more on average.
During the summer people in the leafier suburbs of Dublin 16 recorded a deficiency rate of just 5pc. It was also low in Kildare over the winter at 7.6pc.
The lack of vitamin D was as much as 25pc below what it should be in people from deprived areas. Good sources of vitamin D are egg yolks, salmon, red meat, liver and breakfast cereals.
Many residents of The Liberties felt they did not get enough vitamin D, both from lack of sunshine and dietary habits.
Robyn Peers (21) pointed to her diet as the main problem and admitted she should start taking vitamin supplements.
"I definitely don't get enough. I'm a vegetarian so I don't eat foods high in it like fish or eggs. I probably should take supplements. My mum usually tries to get me to but I'm very lazy about buying them myself," she told the Herald.
Local butcher Mark Smith (21) reckons his diet also leaves much to be desired in getting an adequate amount of vitamin D.
"I drink a good bit of milk and have an egg the odd time but the only fish I eat is out of a chipper and I don't get much sun," he said.
Other residents were more confident. Samantha Porter (40) said her diet makes up for Ireland's lack of sunny weather.
"I get plenty of vitamin D. It's in everything that I eat. We're in Ireland so we don't get much sun but I get as much as I can. I'd be lying if I said my diet was healthy but I get enough."