> New Study Calls for Food Fortification to Increase Vitamin D Intake - The Food Safety Company New Study Calls for Food Fortification to Increase Vitamin D Intake - The Food Safety Company
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    Thursday, 16 February 2017

    New Study Calls for Food Fortification to Increase Vitamin D Intake

    Img: Colin Dunn 
    Ensuring that your diet contains the right levels of vitamins and minerals is absolutely vital to maintaining good health. Now, in the wake of the meeting of a government advisory committee on nutrition, which warned of low levels of vitamin D amongst the UK population and recommended the fortification of food as a resolution, a new study has been published which adds further weight to this argument.

    Published in the British Medical Journal, the study reanalysed data from 25 clinical trials concerning the effects of vitamin D on reported cases of colds, flu and pneumonia, among other dangerous respiratory infections, collectively involving approximately 11,000 patients spread across 14 countries. The team, led by clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London, Adrian Martineau, say their results indicate that vitamin D supplements, taken daily or weekly, have been shown to have a significant positive impact on the health of the individual, reducing both the risk of illness among the population and the financial strain on the NHS.

    “The results are likely to change the cost/benefit analysis significantly,” says Martineau.

    Martineau further states that while those who currently have low levels of vitamin D in the body will of course experience more substantial benefits, positive effects were seen in all patients taking regular doses of the vitamin. According to Martineau’s research, past studies which found no benefit typically involved providing patients with a large, one-off dose of vitamin D, rather than regular supplements.

    The Guardian reports than in any given year, 70% of the population will get at least one respiratory infection. Such infections are the leading cause of GP visits and sick days off work in the UK, with more than 50% of patients being inappropriately prescribed antibiotics for a viral infection. In 2013 alone, they caused an estimated 2.65 million deaths globally.

    In line with his newly published findings, Martineau suggests than we attempt to counteract these alarming statistics via food fortification, defined by the British Nutrition Foundation as ‘the addition of nutrients to foods irrespective of whether or not the nutrients were originally present in the food.’ For example, in the US, milk is already fortified with vitamin D.

    “Vitamin D fortification of foods provides a steady, low-level intake of vitamin D that has virtually eliminated profound vitamin D deficiency in several countries,” said Martineau.

    “By demonstrating this new benefit of vitamin D, our study strengthens the case for introducing food fortification to improve vitamin D levels in countries such as the UK where profound vitamin D deficiency is common.”

    The study does seem to have somewhat divided the scientific community. Two of those who remain unconvinced by the findings are Mark Bolland from the University of Auckland and Alison Avenell from the University of Aberdeen. In an editorial published to the British Medical Journal, they assert that large, randomised, controlled trials are still required. They write that, “Current evidence does not support the use of vitamin D supplementation to prevent disease, except for those at high risk of osteomalacia (weak bones and muscles due to low blood vitamin D levels, currently defined as less than 25 nmol/L)”

    On the other hand, Dr Benjamin Jacobs, consultant paediatrician at the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital, is a firm believer in Martineau’s work and findings. He states that, “Martineau’s data is strong, from 11,000 patients in good quality clinical trials around the world. The case for universal vitamin D supplements, or food fortification with vitamin D, is now undeniable. Governments and health professionals need to take Martineau’s study into account when setting vitamin D policy now.”


    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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