Westminster briefing

Vitamin D supplementation backed by UK parliamentarians


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Kate Green, MP: “We need to get the message out that this type of supplementation isn’t some kind of gimmick..."
Kate Green, MP: “We need to get the message out that this type of supplementation isn’t some kind of gimmick..."

Related tags Nutrition

Tackling vitamin D deficiencies was the primary topic of discussion at Westminster in London yesterday as parliamentarians and industry alike debated that and other nutrition-related topics.

Speaking at the UK Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) organised event, Kate Green MP​, the Shadow Spokesperson for Equalities, highlighted the problem of typical nutritional payloads in so-called ‘regular’ diets.

We need to get the message out that this type of supplementation isn’t some kind of gimmick, and it isn’t a case of saying ‘it’s all right, you’ll get everything you need from your diet’,”​ Green said.

“Quite clearly, this is the type of vitamin supplementation that at risk groups need to take to ensure that they and their families and children can live healthily.”

About 60 people attended including 19 members of parliament drawn from across the political spectrum including Marcus Jones​ and David Tredinnick​.

Under EU law…

HFMA chair and managing director, Lynn Lord, said the food supplements industry’s role in improving health measures was being threatened by regulatory change at European Union level.

“Our industry helps keep the UK healthy, with nearly 20 million adults in the UK now taking food supplements at least four times a week,” ​said Lord, who is also managing director supplements manufacturer Natures Aid.

Lord, second left
(Left to right) Treddinick, Lord, Green, Dr Rosemary Bland and HFMA executive director Graham Keen.

“As a result, many health professionals recommend health foods and supplements as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle, particularly for those with specific nutritional requirements and deficiencies.”

Referring to strict EU health claim laws that have barred thousands of health claims, Lord added: “New EU legislation is putting the choice of products at risk, and will possibly limit the variety, range and strength of products available, limiting consumer choice. Our products are safe and reputable and we feel that UK consumers should have the right to purchase what they want.”

Inside D

Vitamin D refers to two biologically inactive precursors - D3, also known as cholecalciferol, and D2, also known as ergocalciferol.

Both D3 and D2 precursors are transformed in the liver and kidneys into 25- hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active 'storage' form, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), the biologically active form that is tightly controlled by the body.

Vitamin D deficiency is defined as a status of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of 25-(OH)D.

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1 comment

Vitamin D debate - Shane Starling

Posted by Emmanuel Coolsaet,

I would like to put a footnote to this regarding the essence of the mentioned debate, which wasn’t that clear: are supplements beneficial, or are the official RDA guidelines up to date? While it is certainly a good thing for public health to put nutritional supplements under EU regulatory supervision and debate, it is a shame to those scientists and numerous studies that have demonstrated the benefits of some of the supplements that are commercially available at relatively low cost.
Such is the case with vitamin D (as cholecaliciferol), which is a critical element not only for bone health but also for a healthy immune response and body repair functions. RDAs for vitamin D are all but indicative and apply to healthy persons with a healthy lifestyle. Lab results on blood levels of vitamin D are discrete readings, which is an issue with most laboratory tests, and do not indicate individual needs for each person in specific situations such as stress, winter time, pregnancy, metabolic dysfunctions…
In fact, people with darker skins, such as second or third generation immigrants who have left their original warm and sunny habitats, are even more at risk to have low vitamin D status if they don’t consume enough food containing this particular nutrient. In my opinion, the whole debate should not be about the necessity of vitamin D supplementation in Northern or Western European countries, but rather research about the optimal quantities that every subpopulation should be administered with.

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