Free vitamin D supplements will be sent to over two million clinically vulnerable people in England this winter. Over 80% of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 are vitamin D deficient compared with the general population. In a small study, a high dose of vitamin D appeared to reduce the severity of COVID-19. While some scientists disagree about whether vitamin D should be used more widely, a consensus is emerging that we should all take vitamin D supplements.
But the UK should go further and fortify basic food such as flour and milk with vitamin D, which is common practice in Canada, Sweden, Finland and Australia. After all, research shows that a third of people don’t take the pills they are given. And many of the vulnerable people being sent the pills take several other medications and suffer from ailments that increase memory loss so may be confused. Many of the people who need it most won’t be taking the free pills.
A century ago, over 80% of children in industrialised Europe and the northern hemisphere had bone damage caused by rickets. Growing up in Canada in the 1910s, my grandfather had rickets and lived out his life with bow legs. Rickets is caused by vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin” because the body creates it when skin is exposed to sunlight. In Canada’s long, cold winters, not much skin gets exposed to the sun.
In the 1930s a number of countries, including Canada, mandated the fortification of essential food with vitamin D.…