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Background and aim
The spread of novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the disease COVID-19 that is caused by SARS-CoV-2, continues apace. Saving lives and slowing the worldwide pandemic remain of utmost importance to everyone: the public, healthcare professionals, scientists, industry and governments.
It is absolutely essential that advice given to the public is evidence-based, accurate and timely; anything less would mislead and has the potential to cause harm. Popular information channels, such as social media platforms, have been rife with misinformation that has been perpetuated by fear and uncertainty. This has been the case particularly for diet and lifestyle advice. There are recommendations for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 from the WHO,1 the UK,2 Irish3 and USA4 governments and the European Commission,5 as well as public health and healthcare agencies, including key direction on self-isolation.6
This short original report aims to provide a balanced scientific view on vitamin D and SARS-CoV-2 virus/COVID-19 disease. It provides a succinct summary of the current scientific evidence of associations between vitamin D, influenza, upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and immune health. Importantly, the paper concludes with lifestyle strategies for avoiding vitamin D deficiency and ensuring a healthy balanced diet at any time, including during the current pandemic. The overarching messages are as follows: (1) Vitamin D is essential for good health. (2) Many people, particularly those living in northern latitudes (such as the UK, Ireland, Northern Europe, Canada and the northern parts of the USA, northern India and China), have poor vitamin D status, especially in winter or if confined indoors. (3) Low vitamin D status may be exacerbated during this COVID-19 crisis (eg, due to indoor living and hence reduced sun exposure), and anyone who is self-isolating with limited access to sunlight is advised to take a vitamin D …