Move would also save NHS money, argue authors of major study that shows vitamin D can reduce risk of respiratory infections
Adding vitamin D to food would reduce deaths and significantly cut NHS costs, say the authors of a major global study that shows it can reduce the risk of colds, flu and other dangerous infections such as pneumonia.
A government advisory committee on nutrition has already warned of the low levels of the so-called “sunshine vitamin” in the UK population and recommended food fortification as a possible course of action. In the US, for example, milk is fortified with vitamin D.
A study published in the British Medical Journal should add persuasive evidence in favour of fortification, argues its lead author. “The results are likely to change the cost/benefit analysis significantly,” said Adrian Martineau, clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London.
Many studies have tried to discover whether the increase in colds and flu in the winter is partly down to a lack of sunlight producing vitamin D in the body, but they have had mixed results. The team from Queen Mary argue that their work settles the question because they have reanalysed and pooled the raw data from 25 clinical trials involving about 11,000 patients from 14 countries. The studies that found no benefit had usually given people a large one-off dose of vitamin D rather than regular supplements.