More than 1400 adult blood samples were taken with levels on average under the adequate level of 25nmol/L of circulating 25hydrox(OH) vitamin D).
ScotCen Social Research conducted the research and found the average was was 37.5nmol/L. However about a third remained below 25nmol/L, and those people tending to be among Scotland's poorest.
The Scottish FSA director, Charles Milne, said, “This further strengthens the evidence base and will be carefully considered as part of the ongoing SACN vitamin D review.”
Public Health Minister, Michael Matheson, added: “It is vital that we continue to raise awareness of current vitamin D guidelines amongst those considered at risk of deficiency. We will work with the Food Standards Agency in Scotland to ensure that the results of this study are brought to the attention of SACN and considered as part of its review on vitamin D.”
The data will be used by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) in its review of the dietary reference value (DRV) for vitamin D.
Scottish nutritionist Carrie Ruxton was critical of the findings, calling the focus on averages, “meaningless” as high reading s tended to skew the distribution.
She added that, “the cut off used by SACN – 25nmol/L – is very conservative and is probably only appropriate for ensuring normal bone health.”
“Other experts suggest cut offs of 50 or even 80nmol/L to support immune function and help prevent chronic diseases.”
“I hope the Scottish Government use these data as the basis for establishing clear dietary recommendations for the population which should include winter vitamin D supplementation and use of fortified foods.”
In 2010 the Scottish government rejected a proposal to make vitamin D free on the National Health Service, citing a lack of evidence.
At the time the Scottish government said: “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 scheme was estimated to cost about €17.5m annually.
Vitamin D occurs naturally in the body by exposure to the sun, but deficieny rates are high in countries where annual sunlight levels are low. Scotland has one of the highest rates of MS in the world.