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Finland increased vitamin D - Nov 2010

Every second Finn suffers from lack of vitamin D

Intake recommendations were increased, though even the old ones were not being met. Deficiency is connected with several illnesses; even children can suffer from osteoporosis.

By Päivi Repo

Every second Finn suffers from varying degrees of vitamin D deficiency.
This deficiency is particularly evident between October and April, when there is not enough sunlight to trigger the skin to produce the vitamin.
“Vitamin D is perhaps the most important single health factor that we can influence”, University of Helsinki Professor Ilari Paakkari wrote in the spring in Duodecim, the most important Finnish general medical journal, published by the Finnish Medical Society Duodecim.
People of all ages need more vitamin D. Overdosing is not recommended, however, as it may increase for example the risk of cancer.

The Government Nutrition Advisory Board raised the vitamin D recommendation levels for the elderly earlier this year.

At the same time the amount of vitamin D to be added to dairy products and spreadable fats (excluding butter) was doubled.
!!!Fails to mention what the new levels are!
The dairy cooperative Valio, the largest milk processor in Finland, has already implemented the recommendation, and Arla Ingman will do so during the course of this autumn.
The recommended daily amount is ensured when a person drinks half a litre of milk or sour milk (buttermilk) with added vitamin D per day, spreads his or her bread with spreads fortified with vitamin D, and eats fish twice a week.
For the elderly, added vitamin D is recommended.

”We just discussed that what is needed is good basic nutrition, exercise, vitamin D, and cranberry juice”, explains Maritta Haavisto, director of the Roihuvuori Centre for the Elderly.
The elderly need vitamin D to protect them from osteoporosis, but also from fractures when falling.
The lack of vitamin D has been connected to many other conditions as well, such as stroke, adult type diabetes, and lung cancer.
Vitamin D is also known to sharpen up the immune system, thus protecting the body against infections.

Based on data from the Mini-Finland Health Survey, carried out from 1978 to 1980 across 40 areas of Finland, is was observed that those with the lowest vitamin D intake were also most likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Presently the connection of vitamin D and memory-related illnesses among the Finnish population is under scrutiny, explains Professor Paul Knekt of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
The results are expected sometime next year.

Even children’s vitamin D intake remains often below the recommended levels.
According to a University of Eastern Finland study, only 55 per cent of the country’s infants and toddlers receive their recommended vitamin drops on a daily basis.
More is needed, established also MD Päivi Kilpinen-Loisa from the Päijät-Häme Central Hospital in her doctoral dissertation examined in the spring. Kilpinen-Loisa noticed that 60 per cent of children with physical disabilities suffered from vitamin D deficiency.
The situation with mentally retarded adults living in care homes is even worse: of them no less than 80 per cent receive too little vitamin D.

Osteoporosis among children proved surprisingly common. One in six children with physical disabilities suffered from it, and with one in five the bone density had decreased.
Another risk group are children with long-term illnesses, who either suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or are on cortisone medication.
Kilpinen-Loisa supports the notion of additional vitamin D, but of different kind from what is recommended by child welfare clinics.
“Children need D3 vitamin, not D2”, she emphasises.

Children are rarely subjected to taking vitamin supplements.
Some 15 per cent of the under-six-year-olds receive them.
Of the 7-11-year-olds only three per cent consume supplementary vitamins, explains researcher Sanna Ylinen from the University of Eastern Finland.

Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 31.10.2010
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Supplies replenished by summer sun run out by December

A fresh doctoral study indicates that Finns are not getting enough vitamin D. According to the thesis defended by nutritionist Heli Viljakainen at the University of Helsinki, deficiencies are greatest among girls aged 11 to 12, men aged 21 to 49, and women aged 65 to 85.
Furthermore, groups at risk include girls in their teens, men and women aged 27 to 35, and ageing women.
“The vitamin D situation is insufficient in the winter for 40% of Finns”, Viljakainen says. She measured the amount of vitamin D in the blood at different times of the year.
The variation proved to be so great, that it threatens the well-being of the bones. “More than half get less than the recommended 7.5 micrograms of vitamin D a day.”
Some people are already using vitamin D supplements. Viljakainen believes that without them, the situation would be even worse.

Vitamin D is produced in the skin as a result of sunlight. This takes place in Finland only between mid-April and late October.
At other times of the year the sunlight is too weak.
Viljanen noted that the highest amount of vitamin D in the blood reaches a maximum in September, and drops to a minimum in March.
Even at maximum levels, the amount was not very high. In September, the content was just 65 nanomoles per litre. For those who spend large amounts of time in the sun, the content is more than 200 nanomoles.
Vitamin D production varies according to skin type. The skin’s ability to produce vitamin D also decreases with age.
Viljakainen feels that the best way to increase the amount of vitamin D that Finns get would be to add it to foods. This is already taking place. A large proportion of the vitamin D that Finns get comes from milk and margarine that have been fortified with vitamin D during production.

According to the study, 15 to 24 micrograms of vitamin D would be a sufficient amount. This is more than current recommendations call for. “Many find it difficult to reach this level, even if they eat fish, eggs, and margarine, and drink milk”, Viljakainen says. Girls of growing age, who need plenty of vitamin D, often skip fish at meals.
Viljakainen says that the best way to increase consumption of vitamin D is to add it to more foods. It can be added to almost any food.
The maximum safe dose for children under the age of 11 is 25 micrograms a day. Even if vitamin D were added to a number of products, the danger of overdose would be small.
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See also VitaminDWiki

Note: T1 Diabetes in Finland is still 5X higher than it was back when they gave an adequate amount of vitamin D to everyone.