Health and nutrition News

At-risk groups to receive free winter supply of vitamin D

2.7 million vulnerable individuals in England to be offered free winter supply of vitamin D by the government.

Deliveries will be made to clinically extremely vulnerable and care home residents. This group has been identified as a priority for vitamin D supplementation due to long confinement indoors this year. 

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 4 months’ worth of supplements to last people through the winter months.

The government says the supplements are intended to support general health, in particular bone and muscle health. But it also acknowledges the growing body of research linking low vitamin D status with poorer coronavirus outcomes. MPs on both sides of the House have been pushing the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to urgently implement vitamin D supplementation as a “cheap way to tack Covid-19”.

MPs on both sides of the House have been pushing the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to urgently implement vitamin D supplementation as a “cheap way to tack Covid-19”.

This week the Minister formally asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) to re-review the existing evidence on the vitamin D-Covid-19 link. The government says it will publish its findings towards the end of the year.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “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.”

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.”

Welcoming the development, Graham Keen, executive director of the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) said: “We warmly welcome this news, having been in discussions with Department of Health for several weeks about extending the supply of vitamin D supplements to at-risk groups. At a recent meeting with the Public Health Minister we were able to present the latest research on Vitamin D and reassure authorities that the health food industry could deliver Vitamin D at the highest quality.”

The HFMA’s scientific advisor, Dr Michele Sadler, added, “Vitamin D is an essential nutrient known for decades to help support the health of the bones and muscles. It is also known that Vitamin D has a positive role in immune function, and that deficiency might compromise immune health. This is pivotal at a time when protecting public health is paramount”, says Dr Michele Sadler, Scientific Advisor to the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association.

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