Vitamin D is in the spotlight as UK’s health minister, Matt Hancock, looks to hear about “all possible scientific advances that might be helpful” in the fight against COVID-19. This comes in light of new evidence pointing to the vitamin’s efficacy, which is in contrast to previous government-backed reviews.
Hancock is set to meet with MPs Dr. Rupa Huq and David Davis, who have repeatedly called for vitamin D to be investigated as a low-cost and low-risk intervention.
Davis has previously detailed two potential courses of action for correcting vitamin D deficiency in UK consumers to reduce the risk of serious COVID-19 complications.
First called for in May, one course of action is encouraging people to use supplements to boost their vitamin D intake, potentially by the NHS providing them for free. According to Davis, this would cost less than a penny a pill – which is “trivial” in comparison to the costs of lockdown.
The second option would be to fortify foods like bread, flour and milk with vitamin D. Davis argues that the best approach would be a combination of fortification, supplementation and a public health education campaign.
“It’s important that the government takes the potential benefits of vitamin D seriously when it comes to COVID-19. I hope they now investigate the evidence properly,” Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament (MP) Layla Moran tells NutritionInsight.
Evidence under review
Last week, a study from the Boston University School of Medicine found that in comparison with vitamin D- deficient patients, vitamin D-sufficient hospitalized COVID-19 patients had a significant decreased risk for adverse clinical outcomes, including unconsciousness, hypoxia (body starved for oxygen) and death.
Moreover, the patients had lower blood levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker, and higher blood levels of lymphocytes, a type of immune cell to help fight infection. The study authors view sufficient vitamin D intake as a cost-effective strategy to reduce the severity of morbidities and mortality associated with acquiring COVID-19.
In response to the US study, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson says: “The latest review from NICE suggests no robust evidence for vitamin D supplements reducing the severity of COVID-19. However, this is a new virus, and we keep all strong evidence on treatments under review.”