Vitamin D supplements do not reduce COVID-19 risk, official reviews conclude
The reviews were commissioned in response to a recent surge in evidence which suggests that using vitamin D supplements as part of a daily diet could reduce the risk of Acute Respiratory Tract Infections (ARTIs) and COVID-19.
Commissioned by Public Health England (PHE), the Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition (SACN) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published their rapid reviews exploring the role of vitamin D supplementation in reducing the risk of Acute Respiratory Tract Infections (ARTIs) and the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
SACN’s rapid review assessed evidence on vitamin D and ARTIs that had been published since its last review in 2016. The review concluded that evidence currently does not support vitamin D supplementation to prevent ARTIs in the general UK population, but reiterated the importance for bone and muscle health.
The NICE review concluded that there is also currently no evidence to support taking supplements to reduce the risk or severity of COVID-19.
PHE, SACN and NICE noted that they are aware that a systematic review and controlled trials on vitamin D and COVID-19 are underway and will continue to monitor and assess new evidence as it is published. The reviews also stated that government advice should be followed, including:
- In spring and summer, most people get enough vitamin D through safe sunlight exposure and a healthy, balanced diet
- During autumn and winter everyone needs to rely on dietary sources of vitamin D. Since it is difficult for most people to meet the 10 μg/day recommendation from consuming foods naturally containing or fortified with the vitamin, everyone is advised to consider taking a daily supplement (10 μg)of vitamin D in autumn and winter
- People from BAME population groups and people whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun (such as those in care homes or those who always cover their skin when outside) are advised to take a supplement (10 μg/day) throughout the year
- Children aged one to four years should receive a daily supplement of 10 μg and all babies aged under one year should receive a daily supplement of 8.5 to 10 μg
- Children who have more than 500ml of infant formula a day do not need any additional vitamin D as formula is already fortified
- UK Government advice on vitamin D was reissued in April 2020 during the national lockdown. Whilst advice to stay at home remains largely in place, it is recommended that, in order to protect musculoskeletal health, everyone should consider taking a daily supplement of 10μg since people may not be getting enough from sunlight exposure.