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29 March 2016 - Nutraingredients - EFSA vitamin D intakes are too low and 'missing data': Industry group

Shane Starling


Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is widespread in European populations. Given the increasing evidence of damaging consequences of this for both physical and mental health, it is obviously good news that official European recommendations for Vitamin D intakes are finally being considered.

However, as this article makes clear, there are concerns that the recommendations currently being considered are too conservative to make a real impact in reducing the problems associated with insufficient Vitamin D intakes.

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The EU’s central science agency last week published draft recommendations for vitamin D intakes – 15 micrograms (µg) a day for adults – a level drawing some criticism for being too low. Others say supplement sales will rise.

Dr Robert Verkerk, executive and scientific director at the Alliance for Natural Health-International (ANH-I), told us his group was preparing a response to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consultation before the May 16 deadline.

We will be disclosing science that has been omitted in our consultation response,” Dr Verkerk said. Its response would include a recommendation of about 100 µg a day to better combat muscular and skeletal issues like rickets.

“EFSA has been very selective in the data they have used. The opinion ignores clinical perspectives as well as the huge potential for nutrients to be used as a low-cost mechanism for disease prevention.”

He added the agency would benefit from dialogue with clinicians: “You need to look beyond research on a single vitamin studied in isolation if you are developing public health policy and disease prevention strategies that are amenable to the general public.”

D brief

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) used bodily vitamin D levels known as (serum 25(OH)D) as its fundamental measure to determine appropriate vitamin D levels.

After consideration of factors like exposure to sun (which provokes bodily vitamin D production) the Panel set an adequate intake (AI) level of 15 micrograms (µg) per day from food sources for adults and children to achieve a serum 25(OH)D) level of 50 nanomoles per litre (nmol / L). For infants aged 7–11 months, 10 µg / day was established.

Vitamin D can also be generated in the body by exposure to UV sources like the sun and is important in the maintenance of bone and muscular health, along with a role in other bodily functions.

The NDA noted the difficulty in establishing vitamin D dietary reference values (DRVs) due to the complex interplay between how much of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is generated in the body and how much is synthesised from sources like foods and food supplements.

An explanation of different intake measures can be found here .