Coronavirus update: Government’s guidance advises people take vitamin D to fight symptoms

Coronavirus can be fatal if caught by the most vulnerable of society. This is why shielding measures have been implemented. Now government guidelines include taking a vitamin D supplement.

People most vulnerable to serious side effects of the virus are facing three months staying at home.

The vulnerable groups are strongly advised to avoid any face-to-face contact, or leaving their home for any reason.

For those without access to a personal garden, staying indoors for an extended period of time may lead to a vitamin D deficiency.


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Vitamin D is made the moment the sun’s rays land on your skin, and the vitamin is needed for various bodily functions.

One such function is to help calcium absorption to keep bones healthy.

The Scottish government said: “We are currently advising people to stay at home.

“For most people, this will mean being indoors for much of the day and not getting enough vitamin D from sunshine exposure.”

It continued: “Since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone (including children and pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.

“This advice is especially important for people who are indoors all of the time.”

For those who are able to go outside, or crack open a window to sunbathe, up to 15 minutes of sun exposure per day is recommended.

Interestingly, this sun exposure only counts when people don’t use sunscreen.

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This is because, “once sunscreen is correctly applied, vitamin D synthesis is blocked”.

So, anyone spending more than 15 minutes in the sunshine is recommended to wear sunscreen protection to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Meanwhile, an Irish study found that vitamin D helps prevent respiratory illness and enhances the immune system.

Conducted by Trinity College Dublin, the findings suggest that vitamin D can help prevent the disease from reaching a critical stage.


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Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Principal Investigator of TILDA, said: “We have evidence to support a role for Vitamin D in the prevention of chest infections, particularly in older adults who have low levels.

“In one study, Vitamin D reduced the risk of chest infections to half in people who took supplements.

“Though we do not know specifically of the role of Vitamin D in COVID-19 infections, given its wider implications for improving immune responses and clear evidence for bone and muscle health, those cocooning and other at-risk cohorts should ensure they have an adequate intake of Vitamin D.”

Vitamin D supplements are available to order online at health stores or pharmacies.

During the coronavirus outbreak, the extremely vulnerable groups include:

1. Solid organ transplant recipients.

2. People with specific cancers:

  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
  • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs

3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).

5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.

6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

The UK government states: “It is your choice to decide whether to follow the measures we advise.

“Individuals who have been given a prognosis of less than six months to live, and some others in special circumstances, could decide not to undertake shielding.

“This will be a deeply personal decision. We advise calling your GP or specialist to discuss this.”

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