VITAMIN D is essential to lead a healthy lifestyle, but many are lacking in knowledge research has revealed.A health survey of 10,000 respondents has revealed Brits are worryingly ill-informed about Vitamin D.
The research – conducted by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) – revealed more than half did not think it important for infants to have sufficient vitamin D intake for bone health.
Almost two thirds of over 50s questioned are unaware of the importance of vitamin D in helping to protect bones in later life. The same number of over 50s also admitted that they never take a vitamin or mineral supplement.
Current advice recommends only at-risk groups – including pregnant women, under-fives and over 65s – should take vitamin D supplements. But, as it can be difficult to ascertain adequate levels across the population, the draft Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report has proposed a blanket recommendation across the population to safeguard intakes.
The report explained: “It is proposed that the recommended nutrient intake is applicable throughout the year, as a precautionary measure, to cover population groups in the UK identified to be at risk of minimal sunshine exposure as well as unidentified individuals in the population with minimal sunshine exposure who would be at risk in summer.
Since it is difficult to achieve [the recommended intake] from natural food sources alone, it is recommended that consideration is given to strategies for the UK population to achieve the recommended nutrient intake.
The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel has suggested an adequate intake of 15 micrograms per day from food sources for adults and children.
That’s lowered to 10 micrograms per day for infants aged 7-11 months. Graham Keen, Executive Director of the HFMA said: “Whilst we await official guidelines on vitamin D supplementation from SACN, it’s clear that greater effort needs to be placed on public education surrounding this vital nutrient.
“We know that the best solution is to eat as healthy a diet as possible, but with vitamin D deficiency affecting up to half of the UK population, and opportunities to obtain the nutrient through sunlight limited, it seems more needs to be done on providing responsible information about how essential vitamin and mineral supplements work in augmenting a healthy lifestyle.”
In what way does a low intake of vitamin D affect your life? Last year, Express.co.uk spoke to Boots UK Pharmacist, Tom Kallis, Vicky Pennington, a Boots UK Nutritionist and Consultant Nutritionist and Dietitian Juliette Kellow about the topic.
Tom Kallis said: “Low vitamin D levels have a tenuous link with SAD – some studies show that oral vitamin D supplementation can help, but it doesn’t look clear cut. Some research suggests prolonged vitamin D deficiency can play a role in increasing health risks associated with bone cancers.”
Consultant Nutritionist and Dietitian Juliette Kellow explained: “Vitamin D contributes to the normal development of bones and teeth and is made in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
“However the British summer can’t always be relied upon to provide the amount of sunshine we need. Choosing a fortified whole grain breakfast cereal that contains Vitamin D is a great way to ensure that you’re not missing out when the sun isn’t shining.”