Government to offer 2.5m people in England free Vitamin D supply over winter

28 November 2020, 00:22

The Government is to offer free Vitamin D pills to the most vulnerable
The Government is to offer free Vitamin D pills to the most vulnerable. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Over 2.5 million at-risk people in England will be offered a free supply of vitamin D by the Government, officials have confirmed.

Care homes in the country will automatically receive supplies of the supplement for their residents in plans announced on Saturday, and those clinically extremely vulnerable will be offered the chance to opt in for a supply to their homes.

A letter will be sent to households eligible for the supply in the coming weeks, an official said.

Free deliveries will start in January, providing four months worth of vitamin D to up to 2.7 million people.

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Public Health England (PHE) advises everyone to take 10 microgrammes of vitamin D per day between October and early March, particularly the elderly, people who do not go outside and those with dark skin.

Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin because, from about late March to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.

The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors, but between October and early March people do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.

Due to lockdown measures, many may have a higher risk of a vitamin D deficiency which cause severe mood changes, fatigue and weaken bones.

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Health secretary 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.

"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."

Many Brits will not get enough sunlight as usual due to Covid fears
Many Brits will not get enough sunlight as usual due to Covid fears. Picture: PA Images

Anyone who can purchase vitamin D supplements is advised to start taking them now, even if eligible for a delivery next year.

Research is ongoing to investigate the link between vitamin D and Covid-19 protection, including a project at Queen Mary University investigating if correcting people's vitamin D deficiencies over winter can reduce the risk and/or severity of Covid-19 and other acute respiratory infections.

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Mr Hancock has asked PHE and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) to re-review existing evidence on the link between vitamin D and Covid-19 "to ensure we explore every potential opportunity to beat this virus".