Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – nutrients which help to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Our main source of vitamin D is through the effect of the summer suns UVb rays on our skin. It is possible however to get Vitamin D through the diet.
Previously, the governments Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) only set recommendations for high risk groups of people. SACN did not set recommendations for everyone in the general UK population (aged 4-64 years) as they assumed that skin synthesis of Vitamin D in the summer would be enough to cover the requirements during the winter.
However, SACN has recently reviewed the evidence on Vitamin D to see if recommendations set in 1991, were still appropriate. Further to this review, SACN changed their previous advice and now recommends a reference nutrient intake (RNI) of 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day, throughout the year, for everyone in the population aged 1 year and older. These recommendations do not take sunlight exposure into account because of the various factors that can influence skin synthesis. Thus, new recommendations refer to intakes from dietary sources only. Natural food sources are limited and include: oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks.
It has become apparent that many people in the UK are not meeting the new recommendations. Holroyd Howe has identified the increased vitamin D requirement and have introduced the following standards to help their students meet their requirements:
· Oily fish on a lunch menu once a week, and once a week on a supper menu
· A range of fortified vitamin D breakfast cereals
· Eggs to be served daily for breakfast
· The incorporation of red meat on a weekly menu