THE Scottish Government has rejected a call for packets of vitamin D to be sent to all households after scientific evidence suggested that it could help offset the worst symptoms of coronavirus.

Asked explicitly whether the nutrient would be distributed to homes, a spokeswoman reiterated the updated health guidance underlining the benefits of taking regular supplements especially during the winter months.

Last week a senior clinician urged ministers to consider the plan, arguing that publishing the guidance on the Scottish Government website was not a sufficiently strong intervention.

The senior doctor, who did not want to be named, told The National: “What we need to be saying to people is to make sure the Government is being explicit about being taking vitamin D, potentially through a public health campaign. They could also send each household vitamin D supplements.

“Give four weeks of supplements to everyone in the household and tell them why they should take it. It should be taken in small doses every day. There needs to be an education campaign saying this is important.”

READ MORE: Scottish Government 'should send vitamin D to every Scottish home'

The call was made after a groundbreaking report by researchers at Trinity College Dublin found vitamin D helps prevent respiratory illness and benefits immune function.

Speaking about the study, Professor Rose Anne Kenny, principal investigator of Irish longitudinal study on ageing, said at the time: “We have evidence to support a role for vitamin D in the prevention of chest infections, particularly in older adults who have low levels. In one study vitamin D reduced the risk of chest infections to half in people who took supplements.

“Though we do not know specifically of the role of vitamin D in Covid infections, given its wider implications for improving immune responses and clear evidence for bone and muscle health, those cocooning and other at-risk cohorts should ensure they have an adequate intake of Vitamin D.”

A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2017 reached similar conclusions, finding that vitamin D supplementation resulted in a 12% reduction in respiratory patients experiencing an acute tract infection.

Responding to The National, a Scottish Government spokeswoman pointed to its revised guidelines on vitamin D on April 2 in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

READ MORE: Jury is still out on the immunity benefits of vitamin D

“General advice is everyone should take regular vitamin D supplements, especially during the winter months,” she said.

“As we are currently advising people to stay at home in light of the Covid-19 emergency, many people will be indoors and not get enough vitamin D from sunshine exposure.

“Therefore we have advised that everyone (including children and pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D while they are staying at home.”

Vitamin D is produced in skin by exposure to sunlight for 10 or 15 minutes per day. However, many people in the northern hemisphere, especially in winter, suffer from a deficiency.

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