How much Vitamin D are you taking? There is increasing evidence that having enough Vitamin D in your system could – could – help reduce susceptibility to Covid-19.
David Davis MP has been campaigning on this for months, seeking to convince ministers and NHS management of the case, having immersed himself in the academic research and papers on the history of Vitamin D use.
I interviewed him on Reaction – watch and subscribe on YouTube.
The NHS currently recommends 400 IU, but now says it is possible to take up to 4,000 IU. Beyond that it could be dangerous over long periods, it says. The evidence for that claim is disputed by campaigners, especially when taking extra is only needed for about half the year. Taking 4,000 IU per day (for adults) -especially if you are elderly, obese, or vulnerable – looks on balance like a sensible precaution, particularly when the fear now is of the NHS becoming overloaded.
We get it naturally from sunlight, daylight, during the Summer months, and we get less of it in Winter, obviously, and need to make up the shortfall.
There’s another vital factor to consider. That’s race, and the way a darker skin makes it more difficult to get Vitamin D. Remember that puzzle early in the crisis when almost all the doctors who died on the frontline in British hospitals were BAME? Grief was followed by accusations of racism and claims about the relationship with poverty – and then an awkward silence. Doctors are well-paid – they are not living in poverty. Could inadequate Vitamin D be part of the explanation? Could BAME lives be saved quickly?
There’s a fight raging inside government on all this right now, with some officials and medical officers unconvinced, though in the Spring some of the same officials used to say that masks for the general public were a complete waste of time too.
Ministers are asking officials why this inexpensive additional measure – advising the public to take more Vitamin D plus prescribing it – isn’t worth a go.
Davis does not – repeat, does not – say that all the evidence is entirely conclusive, although it is pretty overwhelming. He points out that doctors are right to be wary of the supplements industry that has made so many wild claims in recent decades.
Instead, he tells the history of Vitamin D and explains why we have lost sight of its importance. There’s no villain in the story – it’s an accident of history, changing medical fashions and circumstance.
He explains, calmly, that ensuring vulnerable groups in particular, but the rest of us too, have sufficient Vitamin D from September to March is a cheap measure very much worth trying in addition to existing measures. Existing anti-Covid policy costs tens of billions per month. This could be done for a couple of hundred million and may save a lot of lives, lessening pressure on the health service and costing a tiny fraction of the government’s £43bn testing moonshot. Vitamin D looks worth a shot.