New SACN guidelines recommend daily 10 micrograms intake of Vitamin D

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has published a report advising that anybody aged over one year should have a vitamin D intake of 10 micrograms (mcg) a day throughout the year.

The report has been prepared after the Department of Health requested in 2010 that the SACN review whether the recommendations for vitamin D intake that were set in 1991 are still appropriate.

The SACN looked at a growing body of evidence over the last five years that links vitamin D to musculoskeletal health.

“This is a change in advice, previously we have said that babies from six months to five years should have a supplement and only those people at risk of deficiency should take a supplement,”

Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England.”

The SACN now advise that anybody aged one year or older consumes 10 mcg of vitamin D per day and that all infants from birth, up to one year of age, should consume between 8.5 mcg and 10 mcg per day.

The recommended intakes refer to dietary sources including natural food, fortified foods and supplements. They also refer to average intake over time, such as one week, and account for variations in vitamin D intake from day to day.

The main role vitamin D plays in the body is to regulate calcium and phosphate levels, which are essential to bone, teeth and muscle health.

In extreme cases of deficiency, children can develop rickets, a condition where the bones become soft and misshapen as they grow. In adults, deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, a condition that causes severe muscle and bone pain.

Limited amounts of vitamin D are available in foods such as eggs and oily fish, but for the majority of people, the vitamin is made from the action of sunlight on the skin and experts estimate that 20% of children and 17% of adults in England may have a deficiency.

Public health officials recommend that during seasons where sun exposure is limited, people should consider supplements as a source of vitamin D if their diet is unlikely to provide enough.

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