The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced more than 2.5 million at-risk individuals will be offered free vitamin D supplements for the winter.
All care homes will automatically receive a provision for their residents, while individuals on the clinically extremely vulnerable list will receive a letter inviting them to opt in for a supply to be delivered directly to their homes. Deliveries will be free of charge, starting in January, and will provide four months’ worth of supplements.
Evidence of the link of vitamin D to COVID-19 is still being researched with larger scale trials needed. In the meantime, the Secretary of State has asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) to re-review the existing evidence. The government will publish its findings towards the end of the year.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:
“The government is taking action to ensure vulnerable individuals can access a free supply [of vitamin D] 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. A number of studies indicate vitamin D might have a positive impact in protecting against COVID-19. I have asked NICE and PHE to re-review the existing evidence on the link between COVID-19 and vitamin D to ensure we explore every potential opportunity to beat this virus.”
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England, said:
“Vitamin D is important for our bone and muscle health. We advise that everyone, particularly the elderly, those who don’t get outside and those with dark skin, takes a vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms (400IU) every day. This year, the advice is more important than ever with more people spending more time inside, which is why the government will be helping the clinically extremely vulnerable to get vitamin D.”
For more information, please read the press release.