Europe moves towards increased vitamin D intake

Related tags Vitamin Vitamin d

Scientists from Denmark are taking part in a European-funded study
to determine the best method of fortifying food with vitamin D with
the long term aim of increasing intake of the nutrient across the

Health professionals across Europe are seeing more and more cases of rickets and increasing the amount of vitamin D in food could be one way to tackle this.

A new European-funded research project in Denmark, entitled OPTIFORD, is set to investigate new ways to add vitamin D to foods. The vitaminis essential for proper bone mineralisation and children who grow rapidly and who do not regularly expose their skin to sunlight are at risk of developing rickets.

Vitamin D deficiency is also common in elderly people, and is an increasing burden on health systems in Europe because it is a significant risk factor for hip fractures, which are associated with significant increases in mortality, disability and economic costs.

Sunlight and food are the two sources of vitamin D. For most people the main source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. Endogenous photoconversion of 7-dehydro-cholesterol to vitamin D occurs when the skin is exposed to UV radiation. In the winter period, the body relies on the stores built up during the previous summer and on dietary intake. Diet is a secondary source of vitamin D - foods such as fatty fish, milk products and fortified margarine contain substantial amounts of vitamin D but intake is generally well below the recommended level.

Scientists write this week that OPTIFORD aims to improve vitamin D status in the European population. The principal expected achievement of this project is to determine whether fortification of food with vitamin D is a feasible strategy.

The project will aim to provide new knowledge, scientific information, data and methodologies to optimise fortification strategies. Researchers at the Department of Nutrition, Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition, Soborg, are seeking to determine the lowest effective dose of vitamin D that beneficially affects calcium metabolism, to assess the impact of increased vitamin D intake on bone mass in two particular subgroups, to develop a new low-fat food fortified with vitamin D (bread) and to establish a recommendable level of fortification and/or supplementation in Europe.

Further information on the OPTIFORD​ projectcan be obtained from the Dr Christine Brot at the Institute via pko@sqve.qx​.

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