12 January - 20 June 2016

SACN changes advice on UK dietary recommendations for vitamin D

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has reviewed the evidence on vitamin D and health to see if UK dietary recommendations, set in 1991, are still appropriate.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has reviewed the evidence on vitamin D and health to see if UK dietary recommendations, set in 1991, are still appropriate. The dietary reference values in 1991 were based on prevention of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults with reference nutrient intake values being set only for UK population groups considered to be at risk of vitamin D deficiency.  These were infants (0-3 y); pregnant and breast-feeding women; adults aged 65y and above; those with limited sunlight exposure; and women and children of Asian ethnic origin. 

In 2010, SACN agreed to review the DRVs for vitamin D because a substantial amount of published data had accumulated since its previous considerations.  The report notes that “although the DRVs were based on bone health, emerging evidence has also suggested a range of other health benefits of vitamin D”.  The current review carried out a risk assessment of the vitamin status of the UK population whilst considering a number of factors including association of vitamin D and health outcomes, potential adverse effects of high vitamin D intakes, and contribution of vitamin D from food.

The review considers a number of health outcomes which the SACN committee considered to be of public health importance including musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, oral health, CVD and hypertension.  The report found that there was insufficient data on vitamin D and non-musculoskeletal health outcomes.  There was sufficient evidence on the beneficial effect of vitamin D on rickets in infants and children; osteomalacia in all adult age groups, fall risk in adults aged 50 and over, and muscle strength and function in young people and adults. 

Regarding adverse effects of high vitamin D intakes/serum 25(OH)D concentrations, the committee reviewed the available evidence and state “Acute and chronic exposure to excess vitamin D intake can result in hypercalcaemia, demineralisation of bone, soft tissue calcification and renal damage. Hypercalcaemia is the most appropriate endpoint on which to base ULs for vitamin D since adverse effects that might occur at lower doses, through other mechanisms, have not been reliably established”.  The review considers the upper limit recommended by the EFSA, and implication for infants, adults and children.

The committee discusses serum concentration levels and state “a threshold serum 25(OH)D concentration of 25 nmol/L was used as the criterion for establishing the RNI for vitamin D.  This concentration represents a ‘population protective’ level.” The review continues by stating “Sunlight UVB exposure could not be taken into account in setting the RNI because it was not possible to quantify the contribution it made to serum 25(OH)D concentrations within the general population.”

Taking all the evidence into consideration the SACN is now recommending:

  • a reference nutrient intake (RNI) of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, throughout the year, for everyone in the general population aged 4 years and older
  • an RNI of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day for pregnant and lactating women and population groups at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency
  • a ‘safe intake’ of 8.5 to 10 micrograms per day for all infants from birth to 1 year of age
  • a ‘safe intake’ of 10 micrograms per day for children aged 1 to 4 years

RSSL provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets, including the analysis for Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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