Almost three million vulnerable people, including the sick and elderly, in England are to be given free vitamin D pills as part of the country’s efforts to combat COVID-19 this winter.
The vitamin helps regulate nutrients that are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
While the body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, many have been indoors more than usual this year due to coronavirus measures.
Public Health England has advised that each winter, everyone, particularly the elderly, those who don’t get outside and those with dark skin, should take a vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms (400IU) every day a day between October and March.
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable, a well as those in care homes, will have a four month supply delivered starting in January.
“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,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.
“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.”
While there have been some reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus, the UK’s NHS said there is currently not enough evidence to support taking the supplement to prevent or treat COVID-19.
The government has asked the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England to re-review the existing evidence on the subject — their findings are set to published in December.
The government advised those who are able to buy and take vitamin D supplements ahead of January to start doing so now.