Tackling inadequate vitamin D intakes within the population: fortification of dairy products with vitamin D may not be enough


Dietary recommendations for vitamin D are designed by authoritative agencies to prevent vitamin D deficiency in the population, and while individual target intakes around the globe vary, they are generally between 10 and 20 μg/day [400–800 IU/day], depending on age, assuming little or no sunshine exposure. National dietary surveys report usual intakes of vitamin D that are much lower than these targets, at about 3–7 μg/day [120–280 IU/day], depending on usual diet, age, sex, and mandatory or voluntary fortification practices, and there is widespread dietary inadequacy around the globe. While acknowledging the valuable contribution fortified milk makes to vitamin D intakes among consumers, particularly in children, and the continued need for fortification of milk and other dairy products, additional strategic approaches to fortification, including biofortification, of a wider range of foods, have the potential to increase vitamin D intakes in the population and minimize the prevalence of low serum 25(OH)D without increasing the risk of excessive dosing. Careful consideration must be given to the range of products used for fortification and the amount of vitamin D used in each; there is a need for well-designed and sustainable fortification, and biofortification strategies for vitamin D, which use a range of foods to accommodate dietary diversity. Clinical patients may require additional consideration in terms of addressing low vitamin D status.

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This work was supported in part by funding received by the authors from the European Commission under its FPVII program (ODIN; Grant Agreement No. 613977) and the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under its FIRM program (EnhanceD meats and eggs; Grant no. 11/F/021).

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Cashman, K.D., Kiely, M. Tackling inadequate vitamin D intakes within the population: fortification of dairy products with vitamin D may not be enough. Endocrine 51, 38–46 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12020-015-0711-x

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  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Food fortification
  • Biofortification
  • Adequacy of vitamin D intakes
  • Milk
  • Dairy