Health chiefs are urging Britons to take vitamin D supplements as they are spending an increasing amount of time indoors during the coronavirus lockdown.
From around late March to the end of September, most people get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, which is why it is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin.
During the autumn and winter, experts advise taking vitamin D supplements in order to compensate for the lack of sunlight absorbed into the body during colder months.
But now Public Health England have issued an update on the NHS website, which states: ‘Consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep your bones and muscles healthy.’
It comes as Spanish researchers start a trial to see whether vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties can prevent COVID-19 symptoms from worsening.
However, the public have been are advised not to stockpile the vitamin and there is no evidence it is a cure for the virus.
Health chiefs are urging Britons to take vitamin D supplements as they are spending an increasing amount of time indoors during the coronavirus lockdown. Pictured: People enjoying the sunshine in Potters Fields Park, next to Tower Bridge in London, on Wednesday
Public Health England have issued an update on the NHS website, which states: ‘Consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep your bones and muscles healthy’
Vitamin D helps maintain calcium and phosphate levels in the body, which helps with the health of bones, teeth and muscles.
The human body produces vitamin D during exposure to sunlight, although other sources include oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks.
The vitamin is also added to some breakfast cereals and spreads, and can be taken as a supplement.
Now PHE guidance, updated on the NHS website, says Britons should take supplements in the summer ‘because you may not be getting enough vitamin D from sunlight if you’re indoors most of the day’.
The update added: ‘There have been some news reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. However, there is no evidence that this is the case.
‘You can buy vitamin D supplements at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Do not buy more than you need.’
VITAMIN D TRIALLED FOR IMPROVING COVID-19 SYMPTOMS
Spanish researchers have started a ten-week trial to investigate whether high doses of vitamin D can treat mild symptoms of Covid-19, such as headache, fever and fatigue.
The researchers at the University of Granada will also see if taking the ‘sunshine vitamin’ can prevent patients from deteriorating and needing hospital care and ventilation.
The new study is based on the finding that reduced levels of vitamin D in calves was the main cause of bovine coronavirus infection in the past. Previous studies have also shown that vitamin D can help both prevent and treat other respiratory infections.
‘Vitamin D has an anti-inflammatory action, particularly when given at higher doses,’ says Professor Adrian Martineau, a clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London.
Two hundred patients aged 40 to 70 will receive either 625 mcg (micrograms) of vitamin D daily, or just their usual medication. This is far higher than the 10 mcg recommended daily dose in the UK.
If the trial suggests vitamin D does prevent the coronavirus from progressing, it could potentially be used as a treatment in the community and hospitals. The study is expected to finish in June.
However, more studies will be needed to confirm the findings and the dose required to have an effect.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, says: ‘There is not sufficient evidence to support recommending vitamin D for reducing the risk of Covid-19.’
Commenting on the advice, Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE said: ‘With the nation staying in to save lives and protect the NHS, many people are spending more time indoors and may not get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
‘To protect their bone and muscle health, they should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D – there is no sufficient evidence to support recommending Vitamin D for reducing the risk of Covid-19.’
Graham Keen, executive director of the Health Food Manufacturers Association, added: ‘Whilst vitamin D supplementation has long been recommended for key population groups, this broadened advice is welcome to help everyone maintain healthy joints and muscles.’
Some scientists are looking into the theory that Vitamin D could be a cure for the coronavirus, after research in the past showed reduced levels of vitamin D in calves was the main cause of bovine coronavirus infection.
Previous studies have also shown that vitamin D can help both prevent and treat other respiratory infections due its anti-inflammatory properties at very high doses.
A Spanish study will include 200 people over ten weeks to see if those given vitamin D daily see their mild COVID-19 symptoms are relieved.
‘Vitamin D has an anti-inflammatory action, particularly when given at higher doses,’ says Professor Adrian Martineau, a clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London. ‘Previous trials have looked at using it as a treatment for TB.
‘It is the overactive inflammatory response in patients with COVID-19 that seems to be implicated with poor prognosis. The idea is to see if it can reduce this response.’
Yesterday the UK has announced 763 more hospital deaths from the coronavirus, taking Britain’s total number of victims to 18,094.
But the coronavirus outbreak in the UK may have killed more than 41,000 people already when non-hospital deaths are included.
An analysis of backdated statistics by the Financial Times has predicted that, by the time care home deaths and unrecorded hospital fatalities are added up, it could emerge that 41,102 people had died by April 21. The official toll was 17,337.
Source: Daily Mail | Health News