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Experts call for an increase in daily vitamin D intake

August 11, 2010

Scientists in Europe and the US again appeal to raise vitamin D intake recommendations to reduce disease risk.

The paper proposes several policy changes with regard to the recommended daily intake of vitamin D (1). If implemented, scientists believe that these policies will maximize vitamin D’s contribution to reducing the frequency of many diseases, which would then increase quality and length of life and significantly reduce the cost of medical care worldwide.

The experts noted that although many government and medical associations around the world already provide guidelines for the recommended daily allowance ( RDA) of vitamin D, there is a consensus in the scientific community that at present about half of elderly North Americans and Western Europeans are not receiving enough vitamin D to maintain healthy bones. This is probably also true of the rest of the world. Historically, vitamin D is known to be essential for normal bone growth and quality, and appropriate dietary vitamin D supplementation can eliminate childhood rickets and adult osteomalacia. Over the past decade there has been a dramatic increase in the understanding of the many biological actions of vitamin D. Vitamin D affects the immune system, heart- cardiovascular, muscle and brain systems as well as the control of the cell cycle, and thus of the disease process of cancer.

The experts concluded that worldwide vitamin D nutritional policy is now at a crossroads. Typical recommended daily intakes lie between 200 and 600 international units ( IU) per day, while research continues to suggest that the above benefits would be better achieved with vitamin D levels closer to 2,000 IU per day, a level which does not bring safety concerns with it. Increasing the daily dietary intake of vitamin D by 600–1,000 IU in all adults above their present supply would improve bone health in the elderly and have an impact on all major human diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic and immune diseases.

While the body does manufacture vitamin D upon exposure to sunshine, the levels of sunshine in some northern countries are so weak during the winter months that the body makes no vitamin D at all. The best sources of foods naturally containing vitamin D are cod liver oil and fatty fish, like salmon or sardines. Alternatively, dietary supplements and fortified foods are seen by many as the best way to boost vitamin D intake.

References

  1. Norman A. W. and Bouillon R. Vitamin D nutritional policy needs a vision for the future. Experimental Biology and Medicine. 2010; 1–12.