Scots Need Vitamin D

On this page, below, and the page “Covid19”, are in reverse chronological order various publications and letters all linking better vitamin D supply with better Covid-19 outcomes.

In a nutshell: At our latitude and climate in Scotland, and because we all live and work indoors, we are ALL chronically undersupplied of vitamin D. I would recommend for ALL adults to take the safe maximal dose (defined by NHS, UK and European bodies): daily 4,000 IU (= 100 mcg), summer and winter.

November 2022: Summarising the evidence linking Covid19 risks with low vitamin D levels, there have now been four systematic reviews since Dec 21, (several smaller ones before) all showing reduced risk factors, reduced ICU admissions, reduced mortality either when vitamin D deficiency is rectified, or when D-blood levels were low to start with. They were all from reputable research groups:

Chiodini et al Dec 21 

Dissanayake et al Dec 21 

Tentolouris et al May 22 

Hosseini et al May 22 

And another very reputable group of clinicians from Ireland summarised the explanations in March 22 and recommended higher dosage intakes: Walsh et al “Understanding a low vitamin D status in the context of Covid19″

It appears therefore clear that vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for Covid19, just like age, overweight and co-morbidities are.


June 2022: from the Netherlands: Noriega et al point to the importance of vitamin D as an effective immunomodulator, thereby its capacity to be protective regardless of the upcoming variants in the pandemic, suggesting to “focus on high-risk populations and a high-dose supplementation treatment for COVID-19 hospitalized patients” 

May 2022, as mentioned above: from Canada, Hosseini et all conclude in a systematic review: “Vitamin D supplementation was significantly associated with a reduced risk of ICU admission (RR = 0.35, 95% CI: 0.20, 0.62) and mortality (RR = 0.46, 95% CI: 0.30, 0.70)”, although infection rate was not reduced.

February 2022 Helga’s QNIS Blog summarising why it is particularly important not to be D-deficient when planning a pregnancy

24/12/2021, interview with two experts criticising sharply our public health departments for not informing us about vitamin D. “Sufficient Vitamin D is the breast shield of our armour” and “would we have had a pandemic at all if we all would have had adequate vitamin D levels?” In winter infections rise, including colds and flues, the reason: our defence is down due to lowered vitamin D levels. Although 2 hours long, very worthwhile listening!

Many researchers all over the world have found in the past 18 months that better supply with vitamin D leading to a higher vitamin D blood level reduced severe outcomes of Covid-19. This Italian group, Petrelli et al, for instance, looked at 43 observational studies and concluded “supplementation with vitamin D of subjects with deficient levels should be a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Many people in Scotland are vitamin D deficient.

October 2021: Easy read list of most important research on vitamin D and other nutrients from the “GrassrootsHealth” project 

September 2021: Updated review of all evidence linking sufficient vitamin D with Covid19 outcomes, superb, very readable: peer-reviewed book chapter by Linda Benskin

July 2021 Critical reply to the latest rapid evidence review: never mind optimal vitamin D supply, let’s at least abolish gross deficiency!

Some musical contributions to the cause include a Satirical song by Matthew Checker, and my own song from Dec 2020: “Just give D a chance!

July 2021  Amongst 243,000 people in Catalonia (Spain) supplemented with vitamin D those who achieved a blood level of at least 75 nmol/l (30 ng/ml) had significantly improved outcomes and reduced mortality when infected with Covid-19.

June 2021 Met-analysis of 11 studies and over 22,000 participants showed that vitamin D supplementation can significantly reduce ICU admissions, ventilation requirements and deaths of Covid 19.

June 2021 Finally the Barcelona study was published: 75% reduction in ICU admissions and mortality when Covid patients admitted to hospital were given the activated vitamin D (Calcifediol) which is fast acting

May 2021 Guardian letter accusing public health of inaction

April 2021 Here is a quote from an editorial in BMJ Nutrition criticising mendelian randomisation in the vitamin D context and pointing at the many studies clearly indicating a link of low vitamin D intake and Covid-19: “And yet, where are the decisive public health measures and policies to correct with high priority the known seasonal epidemic of vitamin D deficiency?”

April 2021: “ScotsneedvitaminD” sent a Brief COVID19 and Vitamin D March 2021 pdf to all MSPs advising 4000 IU for all adults (not 400 IU) to help improve vitamin D stores to help immune system to fight Covid-19. Another Brief followed a week later, highlighting how vitamin D deficiency is more prevalent in deprived areas and contributes to health inequalities  Brief Inequality and Vitamin D 5:4:21-2

April 2021: Irish government health committee recommends for all adults to take at least 1000 IU vitamin D supplement and this to be supplied at Covid test centres

March 2021, a systematic review analysed 39 studies, all concerning vitamin D blood levels and Covid-19 outcomes: “most of them indicated a significant relation between 25(OH)D and SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19 composite severity, and mortality. “

February 2021 Several groups of experts and physicians have produced statements to alert the world about vitamin D

January 2021 Superb review of lastest evidence and common sense “We cannot wait for perfect evidence”

11/12/20 Dynamite! More than 220 scientists signed a letter calling for vitamin D to fight Covid-19: to reach blood levels of 75nmol/l (30ng/ml) or, without testing, to take 2000 – 4000 IU

29/11/20 Let’s repeat: Black Lives Matter! Most people with melanin-rich skin or dark skin types living in the UK are very vitamin D-deficient. Here is the sad statistic of UK doctors who died in the UK of Covid-19, described by Dr. David Grimes

25/11/20 Interview with conservative MP David Davies gives a very balanced viewpoint on evidence, safety, reasoning and why a big dose of vitamin D should be recommended in this pandemic, bigger than existing out-of-date recommendation of 400 IU.

23/10/20 Consultant physician Dr. David Grimes (ret) from Manchester wrote a sharp but appropriate critique on NICE who appear to sleep!

10/10/20 short overview about all evidence by Karl Pfleger, US, and from Gordon Shotwell, Canada

1/10/20 Four experts summarise evidence a video talk

26/9/20 Spanish randomised controlled trial showed huge difference in ICU admissions and deaths between the “Normal treatment plus vitamin D” group and “normal treatment only” group in hospital admitted patients for Covid19. There were 76 patients enrolled, it is just repeated in a larger sample.

26/9/20 from the US  great study revealed an independent association between vitamin D sufficiency [25(OH)D ≥ 30 ng/mL] and decreased risk of adverse clinical outcomes from COVID-19. Equivalent UK measurement is 75 nmol/l of the vitamin D blood level.

26/9/20 also from US a large study, looking at more than 190,000 patients with recent vitamin D-tests and their risks to become infected. Just look at the graphs, and then think that the majority of people in Scotland have D-blood level below 20 ng/ml! (US measure is ng/ml, here this would be 50 nmol/l)

5/9/20 Great summary about all arguments and evidence why vitamin D helps with Covid19

19/8/20 Dynamite! Most comprehensive excellent review of all evidence to date about how sufficient vitamin D can prevent Covid19 infection and severity here

5/8/20 “Immune resilience can be achieved in Scotland by implementing a vitamin D supplementation program” email from Helga Rhein to First Minister, Health Minister, CMO, Public Health Consultants

7/7/20 You can read the latest overview on why vitamin D could make a difference to Covid outcomes HERE

6/6/20 Health and mortality are linked to a SUFFICIENT D-blood level. People of colour should have bloods checked, then take D-supplement to reach at least 75 nmol/l. It’s the BLOOD LEVEL which needs checking, not just advising 10mcg for all. To ignore this fact could be regarded as racism! Today we shout Black Lives Matter!

6/5/20 our main recommendation for Scottish Government and all Scottish health boards is:
1. Test all hospital COVID-19 admissions for vitamin D deficiency.
2. Give all old folk care home residents and their carers the NHS max safe dose of vitamin D:
100 mcg (4000 IU) daily

For more evidence please read on, summary from 11/5/20 here

A famous Harvard Professor says this on 12/5/20

21/5/20 superb summary here of 7 studies linking  covid severity with low vitamin D levels

27/5/20 article in Scottish Reviews is here

6/6/20 letter To politicians and public health

9/6/20 Reply to Scot Gov 9:6:20

So, why not trying to get blood levels up? It is very safe! Might be life saver!

Average blood level in Scotland: 37nmol/l

Mild outcome of Covid-19: above 75 nmol/l

Researchers advise minimum 75 – 100 nmol/l