The Government is offering millions of vulnerable people in England free supplies of Vitamin D for the winter.
Around 2.7m clinically extremely vulnerable individuals and care home residents are set to receive the deliveries.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this is because they are at higher risk of suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency, due to spending more time indoors this year as a precaution against Covid-19.
Making the announcement today (28 November), the DHSC clarified that care homes will automatically receive provision. However, it will send invitations to individuals considered clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid to ‘opt in’ for a supply to be delivered directly to their homes.
The deliveries, lasting from January until May, will be free of charge. The aim of the winter supplements is to support health in general, but particularly of the bones and muscles.
It comes as health secretary Matt Hancock has asked NICE and Public Heath England (PHE) to again review the evidence so far on the relationship between Vitamin D and Covid. The findings are expected at the end of this year, but researchers currently investigating the link require larger-scale trials.
The Scottish Government has previously advised vulnerable people shielding from the virus to take a daily supplement of the vitamin.
Commenting on today’s news, Mr Hancock said: ‘The Government is taking action to ensure vulnerable individuals can access a free a 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.’
PHE currently advises everybody to take 10mcg of Vitamin D a day between October and early March.
Meanwhile, a Spanish study earlier this month suggested that more than 80% of hospitalised Covid patients have a Vitamin D deficiency.