In a recent press release the German and Austrian associations for nutrition and the Swiss association for nutrition research announced that they have significantly raised the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.
According to the German association for nutrition (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e. V., or DGE) around 60 percent of the population of Germany have inadequate levels of vitamin D, as established by international criteria (1). Their concentration of 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OH)D), the marker for blood vitamin D levels, is below the desired level of 50 nanomol per liter. In order to reach this blood concentration the DGE recommends a daily intake of 20 micrograms vitamin D as the new reference value for children over one year, adolescents and adults – assuming that the body is not producing its own vitamin D. For infants from birth to 12 months the new recommended intake is 10 micrograms per day, as opposed to the earlier recommendation of 5 micrograms per day. Hence the reference intake has risen fourfold, or doubled in the case of infants.
Under normal dietary conditions, adolescents and adults consume 2 to 4 micrograms of vitamin D daily with their food. The difference between the dietary intake and the estimated requirement when the body is not producing the vitamin for itself must, according to the DGE, be covered via vitamin D production in the skin and/or via consumption of a vitamin D preparation. Production of vitamin D by the body in the skin depends on latitude, season and time of day, weather conditions, clothing, amount of time spent outside and skin type. In Germany the sun’s rays are only strong enough to guarantee sufficient vitamin D production for about six months of the year.
A DGE working group had evaluated the research results from recent years. These indicated a role for vitamin D in the prevention of various chronic diseases. According to the DGE the current evidence clearly confirms that a good supply of vitamin D reduces the risk of falls, fractures and the loss of strength, mobility and balance in older people, as well as the risk of premature death.