A London university has launched a study to see whether vitamin D offers protection against Covid-19.
The research project, which is funded by Barts Charity, hopes to attract more than 5,000 participants, who will each be sent vitamin D supplements and tests in the post.
Professor Adrian Martineau, the study’s lead researcher, said there is “mounting evidence that vitamin D might reduce the risk of respiratory infections”.
"Vitamin D deficiency is more common in older people, in people who are overweight, and in black and Asian people - all of the groups who are at increased risk of becoming very ill with Covid-19,” he added.
His colleague, Dr David Jolliffe, who is the trial’s principal investigator, said the study could potentially help the world tackle the pandemic.
"Vitamin D supplements are low in cost, low in risk and widely accessible; if proven effective, they could significantly aid our global fight against the virus,” he explained.
However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said in June that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that vitamin D supplements protected people against coronavirus.
Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because bodies create it when skin is exposed to sunlight. It helps to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy by regulating calcium and phosphate levels.
Given there is less sunshine in winter and autumn in the UK, official guidance recommends that people take supplements for vitamin D between October and March.
Anyone over 16 living in the UK is eligible to take part in the Queen Mary University study as long as they do not currently take high doses of the vitamin.
Additional reporting from PA
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