Calvo MS, Whiting SJ - 32135 N - J Nutr 2006 ; 136(4) : 1135-9.

Public health strategies to overcome barriers to optimal vitamin D status in populations with special needs

In North America, there is increasing public health awareness of the importance of adequate vitamin D intake to the maintenance of optimal vitamin D status and overall health. Experts now define this as circulating levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of 75ධ nmol/L. This serum level and high levels of dietary intake have been associated with significantly reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. All of these diseases are more prevalent in the elderly of all races, and some are more prevalent and of greater severity among blacks than whites. Our objective is to review recent actions to increase public awareness of the health importance of maintaining optimal circulating 25(OH)D and potential strategies to increase vitamin D intake. Clinicians and educators are encouraged to promote improved vitamin D intake and status, particularly among the elderly and blacks. This will largely depend on combined efforts to judiciously fortify our food supply and to develop individual supplementation protocols for supplements or controlled use of UV light exposure to maintain optimal serum 25(OH)D, especially in high-risk groups. Growing evidence supports a low risk of toxicity with vitamin D use in fortification or supplementation, despite its past reputation of potential toxicity in excess. The cost to fortify food or supplements with vitamin D is relatively inexpensive compared with developing drugs used to treat or prevent chronic diseases; moreover, there is significant potential for broad health benefits in the reduced risk and prevention of multiple chronic diseases.