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Vitamin D: increasing supplement use among at-risk groups (NICE guideline PH56)
  1. Claire L Wood1,2,
  2. Tim D Cheetham1,2
  1. 1Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Department of Endocrinology, Great North Children's Hospital, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Claire L Wood, Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 3BZ, UK; Claire.wood{at}

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Vitamin D deficiency is a significant public health problem. There is a resurgence of rickets1 and osteomalacia and the association between vitamin D status and many other diseases remains under close scrutiny.2 Recent surveys have suggested that over 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient3 and 50% of white adults and >90% of South Asians in the UK have insufficient vitamin D levels.4 Young people and those with darker skin or limited sunlight exposure are particularly at risk and it is unlikely that high-risk groups can meet their vitamin D requirements through diet alone. Testing for vitamin D deficiency has escalated in recent years, with significant cost implications for the NHS.5

In November 2014, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published a guideline entitled Vitamin D: Increasing supplement use among at-risk groups (PH56).6 The aim of this guideline is to increase vitamin D supplement use to prevent vitamin D deficiency. The guideline focuses on the following at-risk groups:

  • infants and children aged under 5 years

  • pregnant and breastfeeding women, particularly teenagers and young women

  • people over 65 years of age

  • people who have low or no exposure to the sun, for example, those who cover their skin for cultural reasons, who are housebound or are confined indoors for long periods

  • people with darker skin, for example, people of African, African-Caribbean or South Asian family origin.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) is currently reviewing guidelines for recommended daily intakes of vitamin D and it is advised that people should follow the NICE guidelines in conjunction with future advice published by SACN.

Previous guidelines

NICE guideline PH56 replaces recommendation 3 in NICE guideline PH11, entitled Maternal and Child Nutrition. Recommendation in …

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  • Contributors CLW and TDC researched the topic and wrote and edited the article.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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