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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New draft guidance from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), published on the Government website, concluded a safe recommended daily vitamin D intake would be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.