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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Get some sun this summer

16 September 2021

Worried about catching CV19 this summer?

Well recent research seems to indicate that your best protection (even if you're vaccinated) might be to make sure you get plenty of time in the sun.

New research from Trinity College Dublin and University of Edinburgh seems to show that having a sufficiently high level of UV-induced vitamin D can significantly reduce your chances of hosiptalisation or death from CV19.

That's got to be good news for Kiwis, as the days grow longer and warmer in the lead-up to the summer of 2021/22.

Perhaps, just for this year, we can give "slip, slop, slap" a *little* bit of a rest.

Of course I'm not suggesting that we risk getting UV burns in the form of sunburn but simply that it may pay to get at least a few minutes of unprotected exposure to sun each day -- but don't go overboard because this study suggests that sun-screen won't harm your vitamin D levels too much.

Even as someone who *always* wears a hat and sunscreen on my face, so as to avoid the pain and skin-cancer risk of excessive UV exposure, I'm still not particularly worried about being vitamin D deficient. In winter I take a daily supplement containing 10,000 IU and in summer I tend not to need sunscreen on my arms or legs, once they've reached "tanned leather" status.

It is interesting, but not surprising, that the latest university studies back up previous research that has strongly supported the use of robust levels of vitamin D as a preventative measure to avoid the worst effects of CV19.

Of course we must not confuse cause and effect... or so I'm told.

I did read a while ago some papers that suggested that low serum-levels of vitamin D in acute Covid cases was not the cause of the disease's severity but a consequence of it. Apparently the body uses significant amounts of the vitamin when fighting infections and thus those worst affected will naturally have lower levels, having consumed much of what was originally available in their system.

It seems that this vitamin may be more effective at preventing acute infection rather than treating it once it exists. This study came to the conclusion that "Vitamin D supplementation may decrease need for invasive mechanical ventilation, but the evidence is uncertain (low-certainty evidence)".

Whatever the case, it would not hurt to ensure that your vitamin D levels are kept up to scratch, perhaps by way of supplementation during the shorter/colder days and by getting reasonable exposure to sunlight on others. Of course a good balanced diet rich in foods containing the vitamin (oily fish, eggs, red meat) is also highly recommended (vegans -- suffer in your jocks!).

So, this New Year's day, whilst your reclining at the beach or in the back yard, soaking up some rays with a beer in one hand and a lump of rough-sawn ham in the other, be happy that you're boosting your immunity and improving your immune system.

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