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Independents' Day

'No evidence' vitamin D supplements help prevent or treat Covid, says NICE

A new review by NICE has concluded that there is no sufficient evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat Covid-19.

It concluded that people should continue to follow Government advice on daily vitamin D supplementation, which is to take daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement to protect musculoskeletal health.

At the same time, Royal Society has said that it is ‘possible’ that higher rates of Vitamin D deficiency could explain why black, Asian and ethnic minority patients face worse outcomes and is urging the Government to strengthen its advice on avoiding vitamin D deficiency.

It had been suggested that the high rates of infection and death among black, Asian and ethnic minority people may be related to vitamin D deficiency.

The NICE review said: ‘There is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat Covid-19. However, all people should continue to follow UK Government advice on daily vitamin D supplementation to maintain bone and muscle health during the Covid-19 pandemic.’

The Royal Society went slightly further. Professor Charles Bangham, chair of immunology at Imperial College London and a member of the group working on its Vitamin D paper - which was released almost two weeks ago - said: ‘Although the direct evidence on Vitamin D in Covid-19 is lacking, it is quite plausible that the same will hold for this virus.

‘It is possible that higher rates of Vitamin D deficiency could be one reason why people with darker skin are affected more seriously by the disease – but there are a lot of other factors as well so we need to collect this data.’

It is also recommending that hospitals consider assaying serum Vitamin D levels in patients with Covid-19, but stresses that more research is required to test the possibility that Vitamin D deficiency predisposes to the virus. This is particularly crucial for groups with a high risk of mortality from it, such as the ‘institutionalised elderly’ and people with a BAME background.

Further recommendations are that hospitals consider assaying serum Vitamin D levels in patients with Covid-19.

Meanwhile, PHE, SACN and NICE will continue to monitor and assess emerging evidence in this field.

The UK’s rates of Vitamin D deficiency are among the highest in Europe.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Vitamin D supplementation cannot do any harm as long as you stick to reasonable doses which are: for every stone of weight take 500 iu of Vitamin D 3 a day. You can add up your daily dose and take it weekly if that is more convenient. In the West of Scotland, I tested hundreds of patients over the years and they were all deficient. This was during the 12 years of no summer after 2006.

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  • This Indonesian paper ft 780 patients found a much higher death rate in people deficient in vitamin D (defined 30, 4% mortality- still higher than )- a retrospective cohort study. They tried to eliminate confounders with mathematical analysis, there's sample bias too because not every covid patient got a vitamin D test but still pretty interesting, Dr Campbell speaks about it on his YouTube.
    https://borsche.de/res/Patterns_of_COVID_19_Mortality_and_Vitamin_D_An_Indonesian_Study.pdf

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  • This is only going to add confusion.
    What they are saying is taking extra vitamin D doesn’t appear to show a benefit.
    The point is that about two decades of studies and a 2017 BMJ meta analysis shows low levels are associated with an increase in respiratory infection.

    It is a simple, safe and cheap thing to address these low vit D levels which affect a very significant proportion of our population.
    The NHS advice is already for all to have vit D esp. in winter.

    The other benefits to the elderly -(care home patients rarely get into the sun and aged skin is is inefficient in Vit D production) are fewer falls, better balance and muscle function and there are claims to benefit to cognitive function.
    II seems a reasonable measure to offer it at least to care home residents to improve their resilience.

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  • It could also explain higher risk in elderly housebound and nursing home populations who never see direct sunlight. They are almost certainly Vitamin D deficient and would benefit anyway from supplementation.

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  • Can anyone believe what NICE says. It's focus is only on cost and nothing to do with clinical excellence.

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  • Take vitamin d. Zinc. And a mask. And front door.

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  • It’s basically saying keep supplementing anyway because we know that so many people in the UK would be deficient otherwise (as I was), and for all the benefits it gives, but you mustn’t tell people that it actually protects against covid 19, or that it levels the playing field for BAME, because there is no evidence yet for that, even though they are highly suspicious that it will. Or to put it another way, vitamin d3 is a great way to treat vitamin d deficiency, but we are not yet sure if BAME covid 19 susceptibility is a symptom of vitamin d deficiency. Fine, so pick a more positive headline.

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  • Don't trust NICE. It only looks at £££. We only have one life. No evidence does not mean it does not work.

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  • How do we explain the relatively very low rates of symptomatic coronavirus infection and covid-19 related deaths in sunny parts of Africa where social distancing is difficult to follow and also access to PPEs somewhat limited? Has any team of medical scientists tried to find out why? Could hold the key to dealing with this terrible plague

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