As part of efforts to combat COVID-19 this winter, three million vulnerable people in England, including elderly and the long-term sick, will be given free vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient and it supports healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. There’s also evidence that it could lessen the effects of the virus, with a recent study showing that there’s a strong correlation between vitamin D levels and the severity of cases.
Although other measures like contact tracing, vaccination, and self-isolation are the most effective, this could be another helpful tool in managing new and existing cases.
The body gets most of its vitamin D from direct sunlight. However, most people have been spending more time indoors this year because of coronavirus measures, which means their vitamin D levels might be lower than usual.
In general, vitamin D levels do fall in winter. Public Health England advice everyone, and especially older people, people that spend a lot of time indoors, and people with darker skin, to take supplements between October and March every year.
According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, “Because of the incredible sacrifices made by the British people to control the virus, many of us have spent more time indoors this year and could be deficient in Vitamin D.”
“The government is taking action to ensure vulnerable individuals can access a free supply to last them through the darker winter months. This will support their general health, keep their bones and muscles healthy and crucially reduce the pressure on our NHS.”
The UK government has also advised that anyone who isn’t eligible for this programme should buy vitamin D supplements and take them in the coming months.
Additionally, the government plans to research the use of vitamin D as a treatment option for those already infected. At the moment, there’s no solid evidence that it could improve symptoms, but researchers believe there could be a link.