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Guideline of the month – official government advice on vitamin D

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The guideline

This official government guidance on vitamin D intake comes after the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) reviewed current recommendations and research. The SACN, an independent committee of experts that advises the Government on issues relating to diet, nutrition and health, concluded that it was ‘not possible to identify’ those who do not synthesise enough vitamin D in the summer and so it recommended a daily intake of 10µg for all.

Key points for GPs

  • Everyone over the age of five should consider daily 10µg supplements of vitamin D from October until March.
  • Groups that get little sunlight exposure – including those who are rarely outdoors, those in institutions and those who cover most of their skin while outdoors – should consider taking daily 10µg vitamin D supplements throughout the year.
  • Children between the ages of one and four should be given 10µg of vitamin D daily.
  • Children up to the age of one year should be given 8.5-10µg of vitamin D daily.
  • Groups with dark skin may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer and should consider a supplement all year round.

Practical issues

The guidance could see an increase in patients attending requesting prescriptions for vitamin D in order to meet the advice set out by PHE.

Expert comment

GPC clinical and prescribing subcommittee chair Dr Andrew Green said: ‘Vitamin D prescriptions are indicated in treating true deficiency. GPs will be able to restrict testing to those medical conditions where such a deficiency might be discovered, and simply suggest that the worried well or vaguely off-colour can self-supplement. This PHE guidance refers to general supplementation for the population at large and prescriptions are not indicated. Supplementation of vitamins for the general population is not part of GMS, so GPs should not get involved.’

The guideline

Public Health England. Official government advice on vitamin D. London: PHE; 2016