Biosciences at Brighton

University of Brighton biosciences blog

Prof Colin Smith

Vitamin D – it won’t prevent COVID-19

Top scientists have dismissed social media reports that high doses of Vitamin D can protect people from COVID-19 but have emphasised the importance of maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D in the body.

Among them are Professor Colin Smith, the University of Brighton’s Professor of Functional Genomics, who 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.”

But Professor 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 over-reaction of the immune system to the virus can be just as dangerous as a weak immune response.”

Professor Smith and colleagues from around the UK have written in the BMJ journal Nutrition, Prevention and Health with 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 (ie, due to indoor living and hence reduced sun exposure), 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 (ie, mega supplements) 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 (400 International Units/day (10micrograms/day)) is recommended by the UK Government guidelines. To read the full journal report, go to: https://bit.ly/3bIMZ6W and for more information on Professor Smith, visit his profile page on our website. 

Stephanie Thomson • May 20, 2020


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