CAB - 7 Oct 2020 - 10 Oct 2020 - Advice

Letters / Staying indoors people are not getting enough vitamin D

A letter to Shetland News Help your body to fight Covid-19 (11 March 2020 by Dr Rhein, retired GP, and others) cited a study in the British Medical Journal that established the value of taking a vitamin D supplement to prevent acute respiratory tract infections.

In response, a letter Vitamin D advice ‘irresponsible’ (12 March 2020 by Dr Veenhuizen, Sandness) insisted that this study had been “rubbished” and, in any case, had only claimed a meagre two per cent reduction in infections.

One can only assume that Dr Veenhuizen has not read the study.

The two per cent reduction was actually in risk ‘of ever’ suffering a serious infection and the authors did not claim this was significant.

What was significant was their finding that those with a vitamin D deficiency could cut their risk of infection at any given time by 70 per cent by taking a regular vitamin D supplement.

I recently spoke with a professor who sits on the UK Government’s scientific advisory group on nutrition and she cited this very study as the gold standard and the lead author as a globally renowned expert in his field.

The physiological mechanisms by which vitamin D protects the lungs against respiratory infection are proven beyond doubt, as is the science behind this crucial nutrient’s role in bolstering the immune system.

Indeed, only last week, the Scottish Government changed its own guidelines specifically for the Covid-19 pandemic, encouraging all Scots to take a daily vitamin D supplement.

So I would urge Shetlanders to heed the advice of Dr Rhein and perhaps also take the opportunity during the lockdown to reacquaint themselves with the traditional diet based around oily fish, which is rich in vitamin D.

Mark Howarth