RCP, British Dietetic Association and Society for Endocrinology conclude that there is currently no evidence for recommending high doses for the general population.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have been contacted by some fellows of the RCP about vitamin D supplements. Due to the lack of exposure to sunlight caused by the lockdown and the possible role of vitamin D in immunity, some feel a national programme of high-dose supplements, targeted at those at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19, would be appropriate.
After a review of published data by our advisory group on nutrition, weight and health, the RCP, the British Dietetic Association and the Society for Endocrinology have concluded that there is currently no evidence for recommending high doses for the general population. Further research should be undertaken as soon as possible to help us prepare advice in the event of a second wave of COVID-19.
The RCP, the British Dietetic Association and the Society for Endocrinology support the advice of Public Health England. As stated on the NHS website, everyone should consider taking 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day to keep their bones and muscles healthy.
This advice is particularly important for people from a BAME background. The higher the amount of melanin in the skin the less it absorbs UV radiation, which converts vitamin D into its active form.
It is important to note that people with proven vitamin D deficiency, or specific medical conditions such as malabsorption or kidney failure, may need higher doses or specific vitamin D preparations to ensure they have adequate levels of vitamin D.
The NHS website also states that there is no evidence that vitamin D reduces the risk of developing COVID-19 or modifying its clinical course. This is correct, and supported by the recent rapid evidence review by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford and the peer-reviewed publication ‘Vitamin D and SARS-CoV-2 virus/COVID-19 disease’ by Lanham-New et al.
We support urgent research into any potential benefit that may be derived from vitamin D to prevent or help treat COVID-19 infection.