Free Vitamin D pills will be distributed to over 2.5 million people in England this winter, the government has confirmed.
From January, certain citizens will have access to four months’ worth of Vitamin D supplements – including those considered ‘extremely vulnerable’ and/or in care home facilities.
Health professionals say that Vitamin D is necessary to maintain healthy muscles, teeth and bones.
The vitamin is ordinarily obtained naturally from sunlight, but many have spent their days shielding indoors since the start of the pandemic.
These tablets are intended to give people their required dose of the vitamin through the darker days.
The free supply is being sent out to residences and facilities in the new year.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “We advise that everyone, particularly the elderly, those who don’t get outside and those with dark skin, take a Vitamin D supplement containing 10 micrograms (400IU) every day.
“This year, the advice is more important than ever with more people spending more time inside, which is why the government will be helping the clinically extremely vulnerable to get Vitamin D.”
People on the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ list will receive a letter inviting them to opt-in for Vitamin D pills.
Those in the ‘extremely vulnerable’ category include:
- solid organ transplant recipients
- those with specific cancers
- those with severe respiratory conditions (cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- those with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell disease)
- those on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
- adults with Down’s syndrome
- adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5)
- pregnant women with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
- other people who have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions
View the full list on the government website.