In Brief

Coronavirus: why are experts recommending vitamin D?

Public Health England says lack of exposure to sunshine could lead to deficiency of vital nutrient

Public health experts are recommending people take daily vitamin D supplements through the spring and summer because of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium – which is essential to maintaining healthy bones and teeth. 

Normally, explains the BBC, most people get enough vitamin D by spending time outdoors because our skin creates it when exposed to the sun.

Therefore, Public Health England has previously suggested that everyone should consider taking a supplement only during autumn and winter months, when sunshine is limited.

However, it has now changed its advice, over concerns that the lockdown is depriving the population of the key nutrient.

The Telegraph says a deficiency of vitamin D can lead to a number of conditions including rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, which cause bones to soften, weaken and in some cases become deformed.

Sara Stanner, of the British Nutrition Foundation, said: “Unfortunately, as the effects of coronavirus continue, many of us are limited in the time we can spend outdoors.

“Correctly abiding by government rules and staying at home is immensely important and, while many of us have limited access to sunlight, this means we need to take a little extra care to keep our vitamin D levels healthy.”

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The Daily Express says that supplements are being suggested “despite the wall-to-wall sunshine that has fallen on many parts of the country this week” because “not everyone is fortunate enough to have a garden that they can use to enjoy it”. 

The vitamin is available from supermarkets and chemists, either as a single supplement or as part of a multivitamin tablet.

Although Spanish and French researchers are performing clinical trials to see if vitamin D helps coronavirus patients, there is currently no evidence that it reduces the risk of catching or getting ill with coronavirus.

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