Research has shown that there is a high prevalence of low vitamin D intakes and vitamin D deficiency in Europe. 14 European studies and over 55,844 Europeans were reviewed to determine the severity of vitamin D deficiency1. The analysis looked at the concentration of serum vitamin D, with a concentration of less than 50nmol corresponding to a deficiency and 100nmol/L as optimal. The rate of deficiency was 40.4%. Another study concluded that 90% of all Europeans have an intake of vitamin D below the recommendations2.
As more evidence becomes available to demonstrate the positive health benefits from taking vitamin D, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently updated vitamin D recommendations. This will ensure that all individuals living in Europe will consume sufficient levels of vitamin D irrespective of their current diet and other methods of receiving the vitamin. The EFSA is suggesting 15 ug (600 IU or International Units) per day for individuals over the age of one and 10 ug (400 IU) for infants from 7-11 months of age3.
The European Safety Authority has recommended taking vitamin D supplements due to the importance for bone and teeth health and proper muscle functioning4. Recent research is also demonstrating that vitamin D is important for proper immune functioning5.
One of the main methods of receiving vitamin D in European countries is from the sun2, as the UV-B rays react with our skin to produce vitamin D. However, during the months of October to February, the northern countries in Europe do not receive enough UV-B rays from the sun to effectively create vitamin D. Therefore, supplementation has been recommended.
Another popular way that Europeans receive vitamin D is from diet. Check out this article to learn about how you can receive more vitamin D from diet. Fish, especially fatty fish, is a fantastic source of vitamin D. As many European countries border larger bodies of water, fish intake is high among many of these countries. However, differences in intake vary across all countries.
Due to varying diets across these countries, fortification has been considered. Many Europeans are concerned about the health effects of fortification; therefore, research is still being conducted on the effects of consumption of fortified vitamin D. However, many studies have shown that the fortification of bread with vitamin D has been successful in terms of acceptance, but more research is needed to determine its effect on vitamin D status.
Diana Beirnes is a Ddrops Guest Blogger. She is a nutritionist, cyclist, and Raw Food Chef who loves to experiment in the kitchen. She is passionate about sharing a healthy lifestyle with others and is drawn to coaching friends and family about the importance of food and supplements. Diana believes in a holistic life and practices this by eating vegan, using all natural products, and using recycled products whenever she can.
1 Nutri-Facts. (2016). Vitamin D deficiency is rampant in Europe. http://www.nutri-facts.org/en_US/news/vitamin-d-deficiency-is-rampant-in-europe.html
2 (2004). Fortification of Food in Europe. Summary of the Conference. Copenhagen, Denmark. https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=9&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiYvfr9hqfQAhUM_4MKHbsvCnsQFghSMAg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vitamindwiki.com%2Fdl1398&usg=AFQjCNGVidiJTd5mLNiftc4hE6w4McfRoA&sig2=exGa1NqulAFVTeWp81tggw&bvm=bv.138169073,d.amc
3 EFSA NDA Panel (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies), (2016). Scientific opinion on Dietary Reference Values for vitamin D. EFSA Journal 2016; 179 pp. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2016.
4 Nutrition Insight. (2016). Dietary Reference Values Set for Vitamin D Intake. http://www.nutritioninsight.com/news/Dietary-Reference-Values-Set-for-Vitamin-D-Intake.html?utm_source=NutritionInsight.com+Alerts&utm_campaign=ddfb986b18-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_11_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_779a92ebc5-ddfb986b18-159335853
5 Aranow, C. (2011). Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of Investigative Medicine. 2011 Aug; 59(6):881-886. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406