SUNSHINE supplement vitamin D won’t reduce your risk of dying from the coronavirus, experts have revealed.
It had previously been suggested that vitamin D could reduce the risk of Covid-19 and that low levels of the vitamin were linked to a higher severity of the virus.
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Now scientists say that while people were not getting the right amount of vitamin D due to lockdown measures, the supplement does not reduce the risk of Acute Respiratory Tract Infections (ARTIs) or Covid-19.
Just last week health chiefs ordered an urgent review into the potential benefits of vitamin D to coronavirus patients.
One study by Anglia Ruskin University found that European countries in which vitamin D deficiency is prevalent had seen elevated death tolls since the start of the pandemic.
However two new rapid reviews published today, from the Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition (SACN) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have found no evidence to back this up.
NICE alongside Public Health England conducted the study relating specifically to Covid-19.
The review included analysis of five studies on vitamin D and the coronavirus on or before June 18 this year.
Researchers found that there was no data from clinical trials on vitamin D supplementation to prove that the vitamin could prevent or treat Covid-19.
Paul Chrisp, director for the centre for guidelines at NICE highlighted that there are benefits of taking the supplement but said the research did not support its use for the coronavirus.
The foods to eat to boost your vitamin D levels
The best way to boost your vitamin D levels is to take a supplement, but there are foods you can eat to help you along the way
- oily fish such as sardines, herring, salmon and mackerel
- egg yolks
- fortified foods such as breakfast cereals and spreads
Harley Street nutritionist Kim Pearson told The Sun there are few foods with high levels and that some should be used sparingly.
"Unfortunately, there are few good quality, natural food sources. Oily fish, such as wild salmon, sardines and mackerel and eggs, provide vitamin D.
"Otherwise, most other food sources come in the form of highly processed fortified foods such as margarines and breakfast cereals, which I don’t recommend regularly including in the diet."
She alsostated that supplements are available in two forms – vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
"Most experts agree that D3 is the preferred form. Humans synthesise vitamin D3 in response to sunlight and therefore it is the most natural form to supplement.
"Vitamin D3 is more bioavailable and significantly more effective at increasing blood levels than vitamin D2."
"Our rapid evidence summary did not identify sufficient evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplements for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
"We know that the research on this subject is ongoing, and NICE is continuing to monitor new published evidence."
This is while the review conducted by the SACN looked specifically at ARTIs which refer to infections in the airways, lungs, throat or sinuses.
While the review reiterated the importance of vitamin D for bone and muscle health, the evidence does not support vitamin supplementation to prevent ARTIs amongst the general population.
The findings may leave many confused after the government urged people to take vitamin D supplements in April.
Earlier this month, the Scottish government also recommended that anyone from an ethnic group with darker skin should begin taking the supplement.
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE, said: “With many people spending more time indoors, particularly the more vulnerable groups and those ‘shielding’, there is a risk that some people may not be getting all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
“It’s important they consider taking a daily 10 micrograms vitamin D supplement to help protect bone and muscle health.”
Experts have also previously claimed that those in the BAME group could be more susceptible to the virus because of their dark skin.
Current advice states that people from African-Caribbean countries or south Asian backgrounds may not get enough vitamin D.
It is recommended that they consider taking a 10 microgram supplement.
The SACN review however did not find enough evidence to back these claims and said further research would need to be done.
Melanin, the pigment that makes a person's skin darker, lowers the skin's ability to produce vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure.
The body's ability to produce the vitamin also diminishes as a person gets older.
Despite the two new reviews both the SACN and NICE will continue to monitor developments in vitamin D trials that are currently underway.
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