Scientists have dismissed “very misleading” social media reports that so-called “mega doses” of vitamin D can protect against coronavirus.
Some articles have claimed that the vitamin can act as a protective measure – which scientists say is “not true” and prompted an urgent need to inform the public.
However, they have emphasised the importance of maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D in the body.
Professor Colin Smith, the University of Brighton’s professor of functional genomics, said: “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.”
Prof Smith and colleagues from around the UK have written in the BMJ journal Nutrition, Prevention and Health outlining their views.
Prof Smith, from the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Devices, added: “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 D3 via supplements.
“In addition to maintaining healthy bones and muscles, vitamin D3 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.”
Writing in the journal, the group of scientists promoted several key messages:
– Vitamin D is essential for good health.
– Many people, particularly those living in northern latitudes, have poor vitamin D status, especially in winter or if confined indoors.
– Low vitamin D status may be exacerbated during this Covid-19 crisis and anyone who is self-isolating with limited access to sunlight is advised to take a vitamin D supplement according to their government’s recommendations. This is particularly important for vulnerable individuals restricted to their homes, such as those in care homes.
– There is no strong scientific evidence to show that very high intakes of vitamin D will be beneficial in preventing or treating Covid-19.
– There are evidenced health risks with excessive vitamin D intakes, especially for those with other health issues such as a reduced kidney function.
– Supplementation with Vitamin D3 of 400 International Units/10 microgrammes per day is recommended by the UK government guidelines.
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