Coronavirus: Scientists dismiss ‘very misleading’ claims that ‘mega doses’ of vitamin D can protect against disease

High levels of vitamin D do not act as a preventative measure against Covid-19, scientists have warned

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 19 May 2020 17:31
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Social media reports suggesting that high levels of vitamin D can protect against Covid-19 have been dismissed by scientists as “very misleading”.

A number of unsubstantiated reports claiming that “mega doses” of vitamin D can stave off the virus have appeared online during the pandemic.

Vitamin D is created by the body in response to direct sunlight on the skin, and it is thought that people may not be producing enough of it because of isolation measures during lockdown.

In response, health officials last month advised people to take more vitamin D to ensure healthy bones and muscles.

And while a sufficient level of vitamin D is good for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy, it does not act as a protective measure against Covid-19, scientists have warned.

“There are currently some very misleading articles doing the rounds on social media about mega doses of vitamin D as a Covid-19 protective measure – which are not true – and hence the urgent need to inform the public,” Professor Colin Smith, the University of Brighton’s professor of functional genomics, said.

Writing in a study published in the Nutrition, Prevention and Health journal, Prof Smith said it is important for people in lockdown to ensure they got enough vitamin D.

“In lockdown, many of us are not getting enough vitamin D – either from the sun or from the diet – and it is important that we all get enough vitamin D via supplements,” Prof Smith said.

“In addition to maintaining healthy bones and muscles, vitamin D is very important for maintaining a healthy immune system.

“A balanced response by the body to infection by the coronavirus is very important since an overreaction of the immune system to the virus can be just as dangerous as a weak immune response.”

Public Health England (PHE) has advised the public to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day to keep us healthy.

Sara Stanner of the British Nutrition Foundation said: “Unfortunately, as the effects of coronavirus continue, many of us are limited in the time we can spend outdoors.

“Correctly abiding by government rules and staying at home is immensely important and, while many of us have limited access to sunlight, this means we need to take a little extra care to keep our vitamin D levels healthy.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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