High-dose vitamin D cannot prevent or treat COVID-19, new study shows

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In a new study, researchers have published a vitamin D consensus paper warning against high doses of vitamin D supplementation.

According to the study, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to show vitamin D can be beneficial in preventing or treating COVID-19.

The researchers advise that the population adhere to Public Health England guidance on supplementation.

The research was conducted by experts from the University of Birmingham and elsewhere.

Vitamin D is a hormone, produced in the skin during exposure to sunlight, and helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.

Following unverified reports that high doses of vitamin D (higher than 4000IU/d) could reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and be used to successfully treat the virus, the team tested the current scientific evidence base on the vitamin and its use in treating infections.

The team says an adequate level of vitamin D in the body is crucial to overall health, too little can lead to rickets or the development of osteoporosis but too much can lead to an increase in calcium levels in the blood which could be particularly harmful.

Examining previous studies in this field, the scientists found no evidence of a link between high dose supplementation of vitamin D in helping to prevent or successfully treat COVID-19.

They cautioned against over-supplementation of the vitamin, without medical supervision, due to health risks.

They concluded that assertions about the benefit of the vitamin in treating the virus are not currently supported by adequate human studies and are based on findings from studies that did not specifically examine this area.

Claims of a link between vitamin D levels and respiratory tract infections were also examined by scientists.

Previous studies in this area have found that lower vitamin D status is linked to acute respiratory tract infections, however, limitations of the findings of these studies were identified.

Findings from the majority of studies were based on data gathered from population groups in developing countries and cannot be extrapolated to populations from more developed countries due to external factors.

The scientists believe that there is currently no firm link between vitamin D intake and resistance to respiratory tract infections.

The lead author of the study is Professor Sue Lanham-New, Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Surrey.

The study is published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

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