A number of people will receive free vitamin D supplements this winter from the NHS.
The government announced last week that people who were on the shielding list will receive a free supply.
More than 2.5 million vulnerable people across England will be offered the supplement.
All care homes will automatically receive a provision for their residents while individuals on the clinically extreme vulnerable list will be sent a letter inviting them to opt-in for a supply to be delivered straight to their home.
Deliveries will be free of charge and start in January and will provide four months’ worth of supplements to last through the winter months.
Vitamin D supplements will help support general health, in particular bone and muscle health, which is particularly important this year as these individuals are more likely to have been indoors for extended periods due to self-isolating measures.
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Scientists have been researching the link of vitamin D to Covid-19 with larger-scale trials needed. However, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has asked the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PBE) to re-review the existing evidence. The findings will be published towards the end of the year.
Mr Hancock said: “Because of the incredible sacrifices made by the British people to control the virus, many of us have spent more time indoors this year and could be deficient in vitamin D.
“The government is taking action to ensure vulnerable individuals can access a free supply to last them through the darker winter months. This will support their general health, keep their bones and muscles healthy and crucially reduce the pressure on our NHS.
“A number of studies indicate vitamin D might have a positive impact in protecting against COVID-19. I have asked NICE and PHE to re-review the existing evidence on the link between COVID-19 and vitamin D to ensure we explore every potential opportunity to beat this virus.”
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at Public Health England, added: “Vitamin D is important for our bone and muscle health.
“We advise that everyone, particularly the elderly, those who don’t get outside and those with dark skin, take a vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms (400IU) every day.
“This year, the advice is more important than ever with more people spending more time inside, which is why the government will be helping the clinically extremely vulnerable to get vitamin D.”
advises people who are more at risk of not having enough vitamin D to take a vitamin D supplement all year round. A range of products and doses are available at supermarkets, pharmacies and other retailers.
Anyone who is able to purchase a vitamin D supplement and start taking them now is advised to do so, even if you are also eligible for a delivery later in the year.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will provide further information and guidance for all nursing and residential care home providers in the coming weeks.
Who is on the list?
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has written to people on the shielded patients list to tell them that they can get free daily vitamin D supplements.
The list of people on the high risk list are:
- Those who have had an organ transplant
- Patients having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy
- Anyone having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer
- Patients having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)
- People with blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
- Patients who have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine
- People who have been told by a doctor they have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)
- People with a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)
- People who are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppressant medicine)
- People who have a serious heart condition and are pregnant
- Adults with Down’s syndrome
- Adults who are having dialysis or have severe (stage 5) long-term kidney disease
- People who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs