15 micrograms per day to avoid adverse health risks

EFSA debuts EU-wide vitamin D intake advice

By Shane STARLING contact

- Last updated on GMT

EFSA's vitamin D work is open for public consultation until May16
EFSA's vitamin D work is open for public consultation until May16

Related tags: Vitamin d intake, Vitamin d

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has for the first time issued vitamin D intake recommendations for European adults, pregnant women, children and infants.

It said data was strong enough to back intakes for muscle and skeletal health outcomes like rickets and osteoporosis but not other health benefits. And there was not enough data to recommend levels for lactating women.

EFSA’s Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) used bodily vitamin D levels known as (serum 25(OH)D) as its fundamental measure.

After consideration of factors like exposure to sun (which provokes bodily vitamin D production) the Panel set an adequate intake (AI) level of 15 micrograms (µg) per day from food sources for adults and children to achieve a serum level of 50 nanomoles per litre (nmol / L).

For infants aged 7–11 months, 10 µg / day was established.

After “taking into account the overall evidence and uncertainties” ​the NDA found that “overall, for adults, infants and children, there is evidence for an increased risk of adverse musculoskeletal health outcomes at serum 25(OH)D concentrations below 50 nmol/L.”

Adverse pregnancy-related health outcomes also increased below the same 50nmol / L level even though it noted the available data is “widely variable”.

The NDA noted the difficulty in establishing vitamin D dietary reference values (DRVs) due to the complex interplay between how much of the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is generated in the body and how much is synthesised from sources like foods and food supplements.

With this in mind it engaged an ‘external contractor’ to perform a meta-regression analysis of “the relationship between serum 25(OH)D concentration and total vitamin D intake (habitual diet, and fortified foods or supplements using vitamin D3).”

This featured 83 trials with children and adults (excluding pregnant or lactating women).

D debate

sunshine sun skin vitamin D iStock.com santol

After that it found inadequate evidence to establish Average Requirements (ARs) and Population Reference Intakes (PRIs), but enough data to set Adequate Intakes (AIs) “for all population groups.”

An explanation of different intake measures can be found here​.

In sunnier climes the Panel noted “the requirement for dietary vitamin D is lower or may even be zero.”

In the UK, about one in five adults are estimated to have serum levels below 25nmol / L (half the NDA recommendation).

Current UK government advice, replicated in many European nations, states no additional dietary intake of vitamin D is necessary for individuals living a ‘normal lifestyle’. 

Rickets, rates of which have been rising in recent years in many countries, causes bones to become soft and weak in children, which can lead to bone deformities. 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin family encompassing ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Both forms are found in foods and supplements, while vitamin D3 is synthesised in the body when skin is exposed to UV light (like the sun).

The consultation​ is open for public consultation until May 16. More on that here​.

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5 comments

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EFSA debuts EU wide Vitamin D intake advice

Posted by Rozalin Kostov,

The problem with Vit.D deficiency and insufficiency is almost pandemic.In many cases we cannot rely on the UVB radiation
for skin synthesis - air pollution, clothes,
office working, UV protective cosmetics etc.
So daily intake with foods-not less 20micg

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Much higher levels optimal

Posted by Robert Cannon,

Vit D is important for far more than teeth and bones. There are over 400 DNA receptors for vit D. Here is just one paper suggesting optimal D levels of 50-75 ng/l (125-185 nm/l. Evidently there are several other studies showing these levels as optimal from another comment.
Study suggests ‘optimal’ vitamin D levels to avoid frailty

By Stephen Daniells, 09-Dec-2010


Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D levels in the elderly may be ‘clinically important’ to reduce the risk of frailty, suggest new findings.

http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Study-suggests-optimal-vitamin-D-levels-to-avoid-frailty

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Nanomoles vs nanograms

Posted by Robert Cannon,

Note most use nanograms/l, not nanomoles. Nanomoles gives you a larger number- 2.5 times a nanogram. A level of 50 nanomoles/l is only 20 nanograms/l, a very low level. As stated by Henry Lahore, 50 NG, not NM is a desirable level, or 2.5x the 50 NM target. The 50 ng level is about what you get if you take 5000 IU per day (the typical units used). 40,000 IU = 1 mg. Optimal blood levels of 80 nG is recommended by some, and 100+ is needed to see improvements in autistic children. Low D is associated with autism spectrum- see vitamindcouncil.org. More focus should be taken in this area but there is no money in it I expect.

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