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Eligible people urged to opt in to receive the sunshine vitamin

People over the age of 18 living in north east Essex and Suffolk at high risk of coronavirus and included on the shielded patient list will have received a letter inviting them to apply for a free supply of Vitamin D tablets. Many of these people will not have been outside much over the last few months and are urged to take up the offer.

Those eligible will need to register their details as part of this national government initiative and opt-in between now and 4 January 2021 at www.nhs.uk/get-vitamin-d

If people are unsure whether they can take Vitamin D with their current medication they can ask their usual community pharmacist who will be able to advise. If you are already being prescribed Vitamin D or a calcium-Vitamin D combination, then you need take no action as there is no need for further supplementation.

You cannot access this offer through your GP practice, so people are asked not to call about this offer. It is being administered nationally and not by the local NHS.

All care homes are also set to automatically receive a supply for their residents.

Dr Hasan Chowhan, a GP in Colchester and chairman of NHS North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Vitamin D is sometimes known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because between March and September most people will be able to absorb enough of the vitamin naturally when outside in the sun.

“However, many people have spent so much more time indoors over the last few months and could be deficient in the vitamin. 

“The body creates Vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin and it’s important we get enough of it to support our overall general health and in particular the health of our bones and muscles.

“That’s why this offer of a free four-month supply for the clinically vulnerable is so welcome.”

Dr Christopher Browning, a GP in Long Melford and chairman of NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Although the free Vitamin D is only available to those regarded as extremely clinically vulnerable, I would urge everyone to consider the benefits of taking a Vitamin D supplement to best protect their health.

“Vitamin D is widely available to purchase at pharmacies or supermarkets, in the form of a multivitamin tablet or on its own, although it’s important to adhere to the recommended daily limits. Your local pharmacist will be happy to offer you guidance.”

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