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UK to give free Vitamin D supplements to over 2.5 million ‘vulnerable people’ – health

The United Kingdom will give free Vitamin D supplements to more than 2.5 million “vulnerable people” during the winter, the government announced on Saturday. The department of health and social care said care homes will automatically receive the free supplies of Vitamin D, which helps keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy, while individuals listed on the clinically extremely vulnerable list would be sent a letter, inviting them to opt in for direct delivery of the free supplies at home.

“Deliveries will be free of charge, starting in January, and will provide 4 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,” the department said in a release.

England’s secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock said that steps to ensure uninterrupted delivery of the supplements throughout the dark winter months for vulnerable individuals are being taken by the government.

“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 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Public Health England (PHE) to re-review the existing evidence. The government will publish its findings towards the end of the year,” Hancock said.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) says that a smaller number of foods contain Vitamin D in them and the human body produces the vitamin when in contact with direct sunlight. Since the Covid-19 pandemic induced lockdowns have confined a large number of people to their houses in the United Kingdom, the government has introduced the move to assist people with Vitamin D deficiency.

Public Health England’s (PHE) chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said that Vitamin D is essential for the human body and it aids bone and muscle health. “We advise that everyone, particularly the elderly, those who don’t get outside and those with dark skin, takes a Vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms (400IU) every day,” she added.

An advisory from the PHE also suggests a year-round Vitamin D dosage, commonly available at supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers for those at higher risks of deficiency. The dosage suggested is 10mg every day between the months of October and March.

While a number of studies have observed that Vitamin D might have a positive impact in protecting against Covid-19, concrete evidence is yet to be found. Researches regarding the same are currently being done and the findings are expected towards the end of the year, the official statement said.

On Friday, UK recorded 16,022 new Covid-19 infections and 521 fatalities taking the total to 1,589,301 cases and 57,551 deaths.

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