Vitamin D tablets ‘can help beat colds and flu’ for millions

Taking vitamin D supplements could help more than three million people a year stave off colds and flu, according to new research. Scientists at Queen Mary University of London claim that taking the so-called 'sunshine vitamin’ may have benefits beyond bone and muscle health and could protect against acute respiratory infections. They analysed data from 11,000 people across 25 trials in 14 countries and concluded that vitamin D can help prevent infections.

Assuming a UK population of 65 million and that 70% have at least one acute respiratory infection each year, then daily or weekly vitamin D supplements will mean 3.25 million fewer people would get at least one acute respiratory infection a year.

Professor Adrian Martineau

Taking a regular supplement halved the rate of respiratory infections in people with the lowest levels of vitamin D, below 25 nanomoles a litre (nmol/L). But it also cut infections by 10% among those with higher vitamin D levels. Respiratory infections, which can include flu, bronchitis and pneumonia, take a big toll on the nation’s health. About 70% of the UK population get one respiratory infection in any year, with 25% going to the GP.