Free supply of vitamin D
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable are to be given a free supply fo vitamin D to take over the winter months.
Vitamin D is important for bone and muscle health but there are also reports that it might also somehow protect against getting COVID-19. There isn’t yet enough evidence to prove this and authorities are working together to review the evidence about the benefits of vitamin D.
In the meantime, the government and health authorities are advising people to follow the current UK government advice on vitamin D supplementation to maintain bone and muscle health.
The advice from Public Health England is for people to take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day between October and early March to keep bones and muscles healthy.
See also: How to take vitamin D safely
Letters to opt-in
In addition, the government has announced that people who are clinically extremely vulnerable will receive a letter from the NHS or Dept of Health and Social Care 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.
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.”
The Department of Health and Social Care is advising anyone who is able to purchase a vitamin D supplement to start taking them now, even if you are also eligible for a delivery later in the year.
Is it safe for me to take vitamin D supplements?
For most people taking up to 100 micrograms (µg) equivalent to 4,000 international units) per day is considered safe but the recommended amount is 10 micrograms (µg) equivalent to 400 international units per day. In a few people, taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart. NHS.UK has more information about how much vitamin D you can take. If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.
How do I opt in?
If you’ve read the guidance and would like to opt in, you’ll need to register your details between 30 November 2020 and 4 January 2021 at nhs.uk/get-vitamin-d.