A National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) rapid evidence review has failed to find data to support using vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk or severity of COVID-19.
There was a focus on vitamin D partly due to the additional risks of COVID-19 on black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in the UK. BAME groups are already advised to take 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily throughout the year for musculoskeletal health because sunlight alone is insufficient in the UK’s climate.
NICE Rapid Review
No clinical trial evidence was available for the review but five observational studies on vitamin D and COVID-19 published on or before 18th June 2020 were included.
These, NICE said, were limited by a high risk of bias due to the low quality of evidence produced.
However, NICE acknowledged that a systematic review and controlled trials on vitamin D and COVID-19 are underway and new evidence will be considered as it becomes available.
Paul Chrisp, director for the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said in a statement: “While there are health benefits associated with vitamin D, our rapid evidence summary did not identify sufficient evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplements for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
“We know that the research on this subject is ongoing, and NICE is continuing to monitor new published evidence.”
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) also reviewed. evidence on vitamin D and acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) although did not consider evidence on COVID-19 specifically.
It concluded that evidence currently does not support vitamin D supplementation to prevent ARTIs in the general UK population.
However, in a statement, Dr Alison Tedstone, Public Health England chief nutritionist, said: “With many people spending more time indoors, particularly the more vulnerable groups and those ‘shielding’, there is a risk that some people may not be getting all the vitamin D they need from sunlight. It’s important they consider taking a daily 10 micrograms vitamin D supplement to help protect bone and muscle health.”