UK officials urgently review evidence on vitamin D amid BAME concerns

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Public health officials in the UK are urgently reviewing the potential ability of vitamin D to reduce the risk of coronavirus, reports The Guardian. It comes amid growing concern over the disproportionate number of black, Asian and minority ethnic people contracting and dying from the disease, including a reported 94% of all doctors killed by the virus.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) began this work last month and is considering recent evidence on vitamin D and acute respiratory tract infection in the general population. Evidence will be considered on specific population groups, including those of different ages and BAME groups.

The report says in a parallel development, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is conducting a “rapid” evidence review on vitamin D “in the context of COVID-19” with support from Public Health England (PHE). It is understood the reviews will be published in the coming weeks. The Nice review may be used alongside other available information, such as specific patient circumstances, to inform individual healthcare decisions.

Adrian Martineau, a professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London, welcomed the reviews and said deaths among BAME National Health Service (NHS) staff had brought the question of vitamin D deficiency to the fore. The Guardian reports that he is leading a national study collecting information about risk factors for COVID-19 with a focus on vitamin D deficiency to address the absence of research in this area. Any UK resident aged above 16 is eligible to participate.

“There are no clinical trials of vitamin D to prevent COVID ongoing anywhere in the world to my knowledge and clinical evidence for its use to reduce risk of acute respiratory infections is mixed,” Martineau added.

However, studies have suggested that vitamin D supplementation is safe and protects against acute respiratory tract infection. Higher levels of melanin in the skin lead to lower levels of vitamin D creation which are exacerbated in countries which have less sunlight. This can cause immune systems to be weaker.

Full report in The Guardian

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