Worldwide health authorities urged to rethink vitamin D guidelines

July 5, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Worldwide health authorities are being urged to rethink official guidance around vitamin D following the publication of a ground breaking study from the University of Surrey, which dispels the myth that vitamin D2 and D3 have the same nutritional value.

In the first ever study of its kind, using low doses of D in fortified food, researchers from the University of Surrey investigated which of the two types of vitamin D, D2 or D3, was more effective in raising levels of this vital nutrient in the . Vitamin D3 is derived from animal products, while D2 is plant-based.

Researchers examined the vitamin D levels of 335 South Asian and white European women over two consecutive winter periods, a time when the nutrient is known to be lacking in the body. The women were split into five groups, with each group receiving either a placebo, a juice containing vitamin D2 or D3 and a biscuit with D2 or D3.

They found that vitamin D3 was twice as effective in raising levels of the vitamin in the body than its counterpart D2. Vitamin D levels in women who received vitamin D3 via juice or a biscuit increased by 75 per cent and 74 per cent respectively compared to those who were given D2 through the same methods. Those given D2 saw an increase of 33 per cent and 34 per cent over the course of the 12-week intervention.

The research also found that nutrient levels of both vitamin D2 and D3 rose as a result of both food and acidic beverages such as juice, which were found to be equally as effective.

Those who received the placebo experienced a 25 per cent reduction in the vitamin over the same period.

Current guidance given by a number of Government bodies around the world including the US National Institute of Health, state that the two forms of vitamin D are equivalent and can be used to equal effect.

Latest figures from Public Health England has found that more than 1 in 5 people in the UK have low levels of vitamin D and has increased the recommended intake of the vitamin to 10 micrograms per day, throughout the year, for everyone in the general population aged 4 years and older. Daily consumption of products containing vitamin D3 but not vitamin D2 will enable the population to meet this target helping to avoid the health implications such as osteoporosis, rickets and increased risk of cardio vascular disease which are associated with insufficient levels of vitamin D in the body.

This finding not only has implications for the health sector but also for the retail market. In recent years many retailers have added vitamin D2 to their products in the belief that it will help a person fulfil their daily intake. This study has proven that D3 is the most effective form of increasing vitamin D levels in the body.

Lead author Dr Laura Tripkovic from the University of Surrey, said: "The importance of vitamin D in our bodies is not to be underestimated, but living in the UK it is very difficult to get sufficient levels of it from its natural source, the sun, so we know it has to be supplemented through our diet.

"However, our findings show that vitamin D3 is twice as effective as D2 in raising vitamin D levels in the body, which turns current thinking about the two types of vitamin D on its head. Those who consume D3 through fish, eggs or vitamin D3 containing supplements are twice as more likely to raise their vitamin D status than when consuming vitamin D2 rich foods such as mushrooms, vitamin D2 fortified bread or vitamin D2 containing supplements, helping to improve their ."

Professor Susan Lanham-New, Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Surrey and who was Principal Investigator of the BBSRC DRINC funded trial said: "This is a very exciting discovery which will revolutionise how the and retail sector views vitamin D.

"Vitamin D deficiency is a serious matter, but this will help people make a more informed choice about what they can eat or drink to raise their levels through their diet."

Explore further: Low vitamin D levels if you're lactose intolerant

Related Stories

Low vitamin D levels if you're lactose intolerant

May 23, 2017
Those with a genetic intolerance to lactose may suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. That's according to a recent study conducted at the University of Toronto and published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Vitamin D doesn't impact insulin sensitivity, secretion in T2DM

May 10, 2017
(HealthDay)—For patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) and vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D supplementation has no impact on insulin sensitivity or secretion, according to a study published online May 3 in Diabetes Care.

Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of chronic headache

January 4, 2017
Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of chronic headache, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

Certain factors affect vitamin D levels in children with chronic kidney disease

June 16, 2016
Researchers have identified certain modifiable and non-modifiable factors associated with vitamin D deficiency in children with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical ...

Study reveals high levels of vitamin D inadequacy in UK adolescents

October 18, 2016
A study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has shown high levels of vitamin D inadequacy in UK adolescents, and – for the first time – identified the intake needed by adolescents in order to maintain ...

Health benefits of vitamin D dependent on type taken

May 31, 2012
New research has shown that vitamin D3 supplements could provide more benefit than the close relative vitamin D2. The findings published in the June edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition could potentially ...

Recommended for you

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.