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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.
NICE guideline PH56 replaces recommendation 3 in NICE guideline PH11, entitled Maternal and Child Nutrition. Recommendation 188.8.131.52 in …
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.