BGS responds to announcement at-risk groups will receive free winter supply of vitamin D
On Saturday 28 November, the government announced that 2.7 million vulnerable people across England will be offered free vitamin D supplements for the winter.
All care homes will automatically receive a provision for their residents, while individuals on the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable list will receive a letter 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 four months’ worth of supplements to last people through the winter months.
The supplements will support general health, in particular bone and muscle health. This is particularly important this year as these individuals are more likely to have been indoors for extended periods due to measures introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Evidence of the link of vitamin D to COVID-19 is still being researched with larger scale trials needed. In the meantime, the Secretary of State has asked NICE and Public Health England to re-review the existing evidence. The government will publish its findings towards the end of the year.
Professor Opinder Sahota, a Consultant in General and Geriatric Medicine at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and a BGS member, commented:
We welcome the recommendation by the government announced on Saturday 28 November. The high prevalence of vitamin deficiency in this group is well recognised and the benefits of supplementation towards improving muscle and bone health. Recent publications have shown an association between vitamin D deficiency and the risk and complications related to COVID-19, so this further strengthens the Government advice and plans to offer free vitamin D to 2.7 million clinically extremely vulnerable people and care home residents.”