Free vitamin D pills for clinically ‘vulnerable’ at home and care home residents

Care home residents and those on the government’s new shielding list are among the 2.5 million people in England being offered free vitamin D pills this winter, the government has announced.

As well as care homes, others on the government’s new ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ list (which comes into effect from 2 December) will be sent a letter asking if they would like four months’ worth of supplements delivered to their homes from January.

With more people with serious health conditions and care home residents having spent more time indoors shielding from COVID-19 during the pandemic, the government has acknowledged there is a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency in these groups of people.

‘May increase the risk of falls in older people’

Public Health England (PHE) and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are reviewing the evidence on vitamin D and COVID-19.

In a joint statement PHE and NICE stated: ‘Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and muscles. Everyone is advised to take a supplement of vitamin D during winter months.

‘Too little vitamin D can lead to bone problems such as rickets in children, and bone pain and muscle weakness in adults, which may also increase the risk of falls in older people.

‘There have been some reports about vitamin D potentially reducing the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19). As yet there is insufficient evidence to prove that it helps people respond to COVID-19, but as more evidence is accumulated, our understanding may change.

‘There are also trials underway which we are keeping a close eye on.’

82% of people hospitalised with COVID-19 were vitamin D deficient.

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