Higgins submitted questions on three points:
- How the European Commission ensures that the latest scientific research on Vitamin D is incorporated into its evaluation of the economic impact of Vitamin D deficiency, and whether the European Parliament should be involved in the process;
- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s progress with regard to the work of the European Micronutrient Recommendation Aligned (EURRECA) project and whether or not EFSA would be drawing on the Vitamin D recommendations to be established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the US;
- How and to what extent could the European Commission support further research into the potential benefits of Vitamin D for heart health, the immune system, and preventing cancer.
PA emphasised the work being done by the IOM to update dietary reference intake (DRI) levels for Vitamin D and calcium in the US, noting recommendations were due soon, possibly by year’s end.
“EFSA is currently undertaking a review of daily reference values for micronutrients, but it is not currently known when the results of this review will be finalised and released,” PA said.
Shine On Scotland
A summit held Tuesday in Glasgow exploring links between vitamin D deficiency and multiple sclerosis (MS) was highlighted as a potential positive for vitamin D consumption in Europe, as Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Nicola Sturgeon, opened the day.
It was hoped that the Scottish government may support vitamin D fortification but it has subsequently stated that the evidence is lacking to take such an action, to the disappointment of the Shine On Scotland group that has campaigned to make vitamin D free on the National Health Service (NHS).
“We take our advice from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and as far as they are concerned there isn’t enough evidence to justify giving everyone free Vitamin D,” the government said of a scheme that was estimated to cost about €17.5m annually.
Vitamin D occurs naturally in the body by exposure to the sun, but deficiency rates are high in countries such as Scotland where annual sunlight levels are low. Scotland has one of the highest rates of MS in the world.