Front Physiol. 2014 Jul 11;5:248. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2014.00248. eCollection 2014.
Bendik I, Friedel A, Roos FF, Weber P, Eggersdorfer M.
Human Nutrition and Health (IB, AF, FFR), and Nutrition Science & Advocacy (PW, ME), DSM Nutritional Products Ltd. Basel, Switzerland.
Vitamin D is a micronutrient that is needed for optimal health throughout the whole life. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) can be either synthesized in the human skin upon exposure to the UV light of the sun, or it is obtained from the diet. If the photoconversion in the skin due to reduced sun exposure (e.g., in wintertime) is insufficient, intake of adequate vitamin D from the diet is essential to health. Severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to a multitude of avoidable illnesses; among them are well-known bone diseases like osteoporosis, a number of autoimmune diseases, many different cancers, and some cardiovascular diseases like hypertension are being discussed. Vitamin D is found naturally in only very few foods. Foods containing vitamin D include some fatty fish, fish liver oils, and eggs from hens that have been fed vitamin D and some fortified foods in countries with respective regulations. Based on geographic location or food availability adequate vitamin D intake might not be sufficient on a global scale. The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) has collected the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D plasma levels in populations of different countries using published data and developed a global vitamin D map. This map illustrates the parts of the world, where vitamin D did not reach adequate 25-hydroxyvitamin D plasma levels: 6.7% of the papers report 25-hydroxyvitamin D plasma levels below 25 nmol/L, which indicates vitamin D deficiency, 37.3% are below 50 nmol/L and only 11.9% found 25-hydroxyvitamin D plasma levels above 75 nmol/L target as suggested by vitamin D experts. The vitamin D map is adding further evidence to the vitamin D insufficiency pandemic debate, which is also an issue in the developed world. Besides malnutrition, a condition where the diet does not match to provide the adequate levels of nutrients including micronutrients for growth and maintenance, we obviously have a situation where enough nutrients were consumed, but lacked to reach sufficient vitamin D micronutrient levels. The latter situation is known as hidden hunger. The inadequate vitamin D status impacts on health care costs, which in turn could result in significant savings, if corrected. Since little is known about the effects on the molecular level that accompany the pandemic like epigenetic imprinting, the insufficiency-triggered gene regulations or the genetic background influence on the body to maintain metabolic resilience, future research will be needed. The nutrition community is highly interested in the molecular mechanism that underlies the vitamin D insufficiency caused effect. In recent years, novel large scale technologies have become available that allow the simultaneous acquisition of transcriptome, epigenome, proteome, or metabolome data in cells of organs. These important methods are now used for nutritional approaches summarized in emerging scientific fields of nutrigenomics, nutrigenetics, or nutriepigenetics. It is believed that with the help of these novel concepts further understanding can be generated to develop future sustainable nutrition solutions to safeguard nutrition security.
Charts agmented with 20ng and 40 ng lines (by VitaminDWiki) click on charts for more information from another study
PDF is attached at the bottom of this page
In the recent years the knowledge about vitamin D and its implications have extended far beyond its classical role in bone health in either fields of basic research as well as in human trials. In particular, the evidence for the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of fractures as well as decreasing the risk for falling is convincing and authorities have responded to it. Besides a health claim issued by the EFSA on the risk reduction for falling the dietary intake recommendations have been significantly increased in several countries such as the US and in Europe (Austria, Germany, Switzerland). A number of other countries around the globe are in the process of establishing new dietary intake recommendations as well. It turns out that on average a daily intake of 600-800 IU vitamin D appears to be required to meet fundamental needs of the human body, for specific applications higher daily intakes may be necessary, which will become clearer as the results of a number of ongoing clinical studies will become available.
The obvious question to answer is: do people obtain the recommended amounts of vitamin D? The diet is typically only a minor vitamin D source as only few food items contain relevant amounts of vitamin D, such as fatty sea fish. The primary vitamin D source for humans is the vitamin D synthesis in the skin from vitamin D precursors by the sunlight—provided the skin is sufficiently exposed to strong enough sun radiation. Several groups have reviewed the published results on 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum levels the established marker of the vitamin D status, showing that low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are found in many cohorts around the world. A recent systematic review of the global vitamin D status (Hilger et al., 2014) showed that 6.7% of the overall populations reported deficient 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels below 25 nmol/L, 37% had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L, and only 11% were above 75 nmol/L, which is considered an adequate status by the IOF and the ES. So a very important task ahead of us is to find efficient ways to improve the vitamin D status on the population level, be it by dietary means, food fortification, or dietary supplements.
In addition, it will be very important to gather sound and convincing evidence for the many additional implicated health benefits of vitamin D besides the ones that already reached a health claim status and to see which of them will actually hold up. This will require appropriate human studies on the one hand, and also involve the appropriate use of the novel experimental approaches like nutrigenomics, nutrigenetics, and nutriepigenet- ics on the other hand. In conclusion, the evidence we have for vitamin D in human health is exciting, however we have to make sure that appropriate measures are taken to improve the vitamin D status to the levels required to be beneficial for human health. In future, we will also need to further apply, exploit and invest in novel, innovative and break-through technologies in the vitamin D research to understand the underlying mechanisms by which vitamin D is exerting so many effects in the human body, which is knowledge needed to the purpose to obtain and secure optimal public health through nutrition.
- Vitamin D Deficiency
- Proof that Vitamin D Works
- Top Charts
- 3 to 55 X more likely to have these health problems if low Vitamin D
- Incidence of 22 health problems related to vitamin D have doubled in a decade
- Does Less Sun mean More Disease video introduction to vitamin D, produced by VitaminDWiki
- How often might 50,000 IU vitamin D be taken - results of clinical trials
which sorts the proofs by amount of vitamin D needed
- Criteria to associate a health problem with low vitamin D
- One pill every two weeks gives you all the vitamin D most adults need
Vitamin D costing just a few pennies a day will probably eliminate ALL of the above increased risk factors