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Government experts want everyone to take vitamin D supplements

A group of advisers on nutrition has asked the Government to consider widening vitamin D supplement guidance to cover the whole population.

New draft guidance from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), published on the Government website, concluded a safe recommended daily vitamin D intake would be 10µg/day for everyone over the age of four all year round.

Currently supplements are recommended to infants and children under four (at lower doses), pregnant and breast-feeding women, adults over 65, people with limited exposure to sunlight because they spend all their time indoors or wearing protective clothing, as well as people of Asian ethnic origin.

However, a range of new research has suggested much wider health effects than the previous guidance, which was based only around musculoskeletal effects of vitamin D deficiency.

In their draft report, now out for consultation, the SACN said: ‘Although most people would be expected to synthesise vitamin D during summer, serum 25(OH)D concentrations < 25 nmol/L have been observed in a proportion of some population groups in the UK during the summer months. Since it is not possible to identify these individuals, it is proposed that the RNI is applicable throughout the year.

‘This is a precautionary approach to protect the most vulnerable groups in the population and to take account of variable exposure to sunshine and diet. This approach ensures coverage of 97.5% of the population throughout the year.’

It added that because it is ‘difficult to achieve the… safe intake from natural food sources alone’ the Government should ‘give consideration to strategies’ to ensure everyone over the age of 4 gets at least the RNI of 10µg/day ‘and for younger children to achieve a Safe Intake in the range 8.5-10 µg/d at ages 0 to < 1 year and 10 µg/d at ages 1 to < 4 years.’

Previously, NICE has called for a national campaign to promote daily vitamin D supplements to people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Readers' comments (18)

  • Could someone please explain what pathology arises as the result of low Vit D levels, and why our surgeries aren't flooded with all these people.

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  • If you have not done some (easy) diagnostic of hypovit D, of course you think that it does not exist!
    See a person, afraid to be exposed to sun (she is very white and her dermatologist specialist has told her to protect from sun), with "pain everywhere", fatigue... a GOOD dose of vitamin D3 (the same than the naturally metabolized one, vit D2 will not do anything), and you will be surprised of the fast improving!!! it was OSTEOMALACIA, in a country (UK) with not much sun, and a lot of dark skinned people, covered from head to toes...Search on Google, and you will be amazed of the importance of vitamin D!!!!

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  • Oh but you are - there is good evidence for its role in the immune system. Canada has already decided to do this and supplements food etc. Would very likely reduce A&E activity and your work for those with self limiting infections and probably reduce days off work for these infections.

    There are lots of articles - quick google to find one:

    J Investig Med. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 Aug 1.

    Published in final edited form as:
    J Investig Med. 2011 Aug; 59(6): 881–886.
    doi: 10.231/JIM.0b013e31821b8755

    PMCID: PMC3166406
    NIHMSID: NIHMS291217

    Vitamin D and the Immune System
    Cynthia Aranow, MD, Investigator

    It is now clear that vitamin D has important roles in addition to its classic effects on calcium and bone homeostasis. As the vitamin D receptor is expressed on immune cells (B cells, T cells and antigen presenting cells) and these immunologic cells are all are capable of synthesizing the active vitamin D metabolite, vitamin D has the capability of acting in an autocrine manner in a local immunologic milieu. Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. As immune cells in autoimmune diseases are responsive to the ameliorative effects of vitamin D, the beneficial effects of supplementing vitamin D deficient individuals with autoimmune disease may extend beyond the effects on bone and calcium homeostasis.

    This will identify me are NHS Manager but I am a medical doctor with a lot of public health experience. We cannot predict the full impact of this kind of population intervention but no significant downside and probably big upside. I am glad to see us finally taking this step.

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  • Another case: you are in the street, and you see a small child (5 yo) who cries because he refuse to walk, and his mother (or father) do not want to carry him:
    This is hypovit D, for the same reason: not enough sun, no systematic supplementation before...

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  • Also: Child with recurrent ENT/Chest infection diagnosed with "asthma", It is also favored's by hypovit D!!! but also the MITES in a dusty bed/bedroom full of toys, teddy bears...

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  • Anoymous 10:45am - please tell me your question was a joke because it will be disgraceful if it was actually a genuine question.

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  • Vitamin D is a bit of a fad IMO.

    I can't help but think that whacking everyone on high dose Vit D will cause new problems down the line. I predict something like a massive spike in osteosarcomas in 15 years time.

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  • Hoorah!!!atleast we are getting vitamin d instead of vitamin M on the NHS

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  • Simples government experts are in the ideal position to encourage the monkeys who legislate to legislate the fortification of food stuffs then.Should this not be a public health issue.

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  • it is not matter of putting everybody on high doses of vitamin D3: it matter (public health) to be sure child get the correct dose of vitamin D3. Then for adults necessity to "fill them up" first, after OTC or food systematic supplementation will be enough. Think that only to get the daily allowance dose, we need 2 hours of sun a day, if we are not too covered by clothes. So good to wear shorts trousers, short shirts the summer!..
    Vitamin D even interfere on fertility...
    Another problem is to have the correct available oral vitamin D3 from the pharmacist! In other countries you have drinkable ampoules of 200,000 iu of vitamin D3 you need only 3 of them to fill up somebody.

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