Speaking after the event, Jacinthe Côté, the company’s corporate communications manager, told NutraIngredients it was unsurprising that 71 per cent of men and 78 per cent of women, aged between 19 to 64 years have a vitamin D dietary intake below 5 mcg/day.
“These results (from the 2003 National Diet and Nutrition Survey) are not surprising because there are very few dietary sources of vitamin D, with oily fish being the richest source. However, in the UK, only 27% of the population are consumers of oily fish, according to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2004),” she said.
Re-emergence of rickets
The re-emergence of rickets, or osteomalacia, which are clinical signs of chronic vitamin D deficiency, are evidence of widespread deficiency, she continued. Younger and older adults and British Asians are said to show the lowest vitamin D status
Also emerging scientific research has linked low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels to increased risk of many types of chronic diseases, as well as several types of bacterial and viral infections.
Vitamin D has been linked to bone and teeth health, muscle function, immunity, prevention of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and prostrate cancer.
Summer sunlight is a much more potent source of vitamin D than diet. At about equatorial latitudes (42°N–42°S), sun exposure to the face and arms for 30 minutes/day is the most efficient way of maintaining adequate vitamin D status, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Elsewhere, exposure for 30 minutes/day is effective only in summertime. Also the dermal capacity of skin to synthesize vitamin D is influenced by factors such as: Ageing, skin pigmentation, use of sunscreen, cloud cover, sun avoidance and degrees of cover from clothing. For those reasons, diet and supplementation should take on an increasing importance, said Côté .
In the UK population, there are no reference nutrient intakes for vitamin D for people between four and 65 years other than for those at a specific risk of limited UVB skin exposure. But following a review of UK Dietary Reference Values, new terms of reference should be published by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.
Following the Institute of Medicine Report Brief last November, both Canadian and American governments have raised their Recommended Daily Allowance from 5 to 15 mcg per day for children. For most adults it has been raised from 10 to 20 mcg for adults older than 70 years, assuming minimal sun exposure.
Meanwhile, Lallemand believes its vegetarian source of vitamin D, based on yeast, could help to remedy the problem of vitamin D deficiency. “Lallemand is reintroducing the vitamin D yeast as a more natural and as a vegetarian source,” said Côté.
The company’s yeast is exposed to a source of light during the production process that naturally transforms the sterols present in yeast into vitamin D. According to a company statement: “In this way, Lallemand yeast products can be used as natural and vegetarian sources of Vitamin D to enhance the Vitamin D content of bread, baked goods, and other food products and can also be used as a supplement.”
Côté added: “At this point in time, the EU regulatory status of the vitamin D yeast is undetermined. In North America its use is allowed and our customers add it to bread and we are working with food companies that want to fortify their yogurt, fruit juices, and other products.”
The company’s Lalmin Vita D ingredient is a dried, inactivated whole yeast cell of the saccharomyces cerevisiae strain. It contains contains 8,000 IU of vitamin D per gram in a “natural, non-synthetic” form that can be used as a food ingredient and in supplement tablets, soft gels and capsules, said the company.