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A multi-disciplinary expert group met to discuss vitamin D deficiency in the UK and strategies for improving population intakes and status. Changes to UK Government advice since the 1st Rank Forum on Vitamin D (2009) were discussed, including rationale for setting a reference nutrient intake (10 µg/d; 400 IU/d) for adults and children (4+ years). Current UK data show inadequate intakes among all age groups and high prevalence of low vitamin D status among specific groups (e.g. pregnant women and adolescent males/females). Evidence of widespread deficiency within some minority ethnic groups, resulting in nutritional rickets (particularly among Black and South Asian infants), raised particular concern. Latest data indicate that UK population vitamin D intakes and status reamain relatively unchanged since Government recommendations changed in 2016. Vitamin D food fortification was discussed as a potential strategy to increase population intakes. Data from dose–response and dietary modelling studies indicate dairy products, bread, hens’ eggs and some meats as potential fortification vehicles. Vitamin D3 appears more effective than vitamin D2 for raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration, which has implications for choice of fortificant. Other considerations for successful fortification strategies include: (i) need for ‘real-world’ cost information for use in modelling work; (ii) supportive food legislation; (iii) improved consumer and health professional understanding of vitamin D’s importance; (iv) clinical consequences of inadequate vitamin D status and (v) consistent communication of Government advice across health/social care professions, and via the food industry. These areas urgently require further research to enable universal improvement in vitamin D intakes and status in the UK population.
Public Health England has set a definition for free sugars in the UK in order to estimate intakes of free sugars in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. This follows the recommendation from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition in its 2015 report on Carbohydrates and Health that a definition of free sugars should be adopted. The definition of free sugars includes: all added sugars in any form; all sugars naturally present in fruit and vegetable juices, purées and pastes and similar products in which the structure has been broken down; all sugars in drinks (except for dairy-based drinks); and lactose and galactose added as ingredients. The sugars naturally present in milk and dairy products, fresh and most types of processed fruit and vegetables and in cereal grains, nuts and seeds are excluded from the definition.
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