Vitamin D: EFSA sets dietary reference values

EFSA has set dietary reference values (DRVs) for the intake of vitamin D. EFSA provides this advice to risk managers in European countries who use it for making recommendations to consumers.

The Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) defined an adequate intake (AI) of 15 µg per day for healthy individuals over one year of age. This includes pregnant and lactating women. The DRVs for infants aged 7-11 months have been set at 10 µg per day.

The setting of DRVs for vitamin D is part of the review of reference values for nutrients and energy intakes established in 1993. It helps risk managers make specific recommendations on the intake of nutrients to enable European consumers to make healthy diet choices.

Vitamin D can also be synthesised in the body by exposure to the sun, reducing the amount of vitamin D needed via the diet. The DRVs for vitamin D are based on the assumption of minimal exposure to the sun with resulting limited levels of synthesised vitamin D. The DRVs will ensure that European consumers take in sufficient levels of vitamin D irrespective of their geographic location and exposure to sun light.

Vitamin D plays an important role in the body, in particular by helping to maintain normal bones and muscle function. Vitamin D deficiency may have a negative impact on bone density, resulting in soft bones in children (rickets) and fragile, misshapen bones in adults.

EFSA recommends further research on the impact of dietary intake and skin synthesis of vitamin D.

EFSA’s assessment for European consumers follows that of the UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) which has recommended DRVs for vitamin D for the UK population. A joint explanatory note is attached to EFSA’s scientific opinion that sets out the respective approaches taken by the two organisations in deriving DRV values for Vitamin D – including methodology, the data used and geographical area covered in the assessment.

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