Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Peep into Policy, Politics, Parliament

Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

Peep into Policy, Politics, Parliament

Article excerpt

Current Vitamin D issues in the UK

Vitamin D deficiency is a growing public health concern. On 25th October 2011 a parliamentary event took place that warned of the health implications of not getting enough vitamin D and called for the need for action.

With an increase in the number of elderly people suffering from osteoporosis and with more children developing rickets (a disease thought to have vanished) a lack of vitamin D in our diet is becoming a problem. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (2002) found that 90% of people in the UK do not get enough vitamin D. At the meeting Yamin Qureshi MP noted that if we continue to ignore vitamin D deficiency as a serious public health issue, the cost could be an unwelcome burden on the health service in the future.

Whilst both the Department for Health and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, recommend vitamin D supplementation for the elderly and children, it is still not known if such advice is being followed. The meeting also noted that advice can be confusing. Recommendations to boost vitamin D levels through increased sun exposure contradict the message by government and cancer charities that staying out in the sun for too long can cause skin cancer.

One of the main barriers to improving vitamin D levels was the lack of evidence base for vitamin D intake. Ash Soni, a Pharmacist and member of the Government's NHS Future Forum, told the meeting that it was incredibly difficult to recommend to the public how much vitamin D we actually need because there is no firm evidence. Current recommendations also differ. In the UK, the advice is a minimum of 25 nanomoles (nmol)/per litre, but in the US, the Institute of Medicine says that 50 nmol/per litre is adequate. …

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