UK researchers call for nutritional guidelines on Vitamin D

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 19, 2020 Published on October 19, 2020

According to a new study, the consumption of Vitamin D as a medicine, rather than a key nutrient, is posing a health risk to the elderly at care homes in England.

The researchers of the study, published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health, stressed that there is an urgent need to formulate nutritional guidelines and regulations for the use of Vitamin D.

This is relevant with winter approaching, when the main source of Vitamin D — sunlight — plummets, especially in the northern hemisphere.

The authors of the study noted that with a few major food sources, it is difficult to get enough Vitamin D from diet alone. And, Vitamin D deficiency in care homes is widespread in many parts of the world.

Vitamin D is required for good bone health and is vouched for the role it plays to enhance the immune system, cardiovascular health, neurological conditions, respiratory infections, lung function, and cancer.

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Covid factor

Health experts have also supported the consumption of the nutrient to mitigate the severity of coronavirus cases.

People who spend less time outdoors, such as the elderly in residential care, or who regularly cover up their skin, or who have darker skin tones, are all at heightened risk of Vitamin D deficiency, the study added.

The researchers wrote: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought conditions in care homes into the public eye and on to the political agenda. While practices in care homes are in the spotlight there is an urgent need for action to ensure Vitamin D recommendations can be applied in care homes.”

“The medical framing of Vitamin D supplements in care homes is a practical barrier to the implementation of long-standing nutrition guidelines. A paradigm shift is needed so that Vitamin D is understood as a protective nutrient as well as a medicine, and public health as well as a medical responsibility,” they concluded.

Commenting on the study, Sumantra Ray, Professor and Executive Director, BMJ, said in a statement: “This research re-emphasises the role of Vitamin D in health, an issue that has become even more relevant, given the growing body of evidence, including research published in this journal suggesting that it may help lower the risk of Covid-19 infection and/or ease the severity of symptoms, particularly among those at highest risk.”

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Published on October 19, 2020
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