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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.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused mild illness in children, until the emergence of the novel hyperinflammatory condition paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (PIMS-TS). PIMS-TS is thought to be a post-SARS-CoV-2 immune dysregulation with excessive inflammatory cytokine release. We studied 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) concentrations in children with PIMS-TS, admitted to a tertiary paediatric hospital in the UK, due to its postulated role in cytokine regulation and immune response. Eighteen children (median (range) age 8·9 (0·3-14·6) years, male = 10) met the case definition. The majority were of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) origin (89 %, 16/18). Positive SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies were present in 94 % (17/18) and RNA by PCR in 6 % (1/18). Seventy-eight percentage of the cohort were vitamin D deficient (< 30 nmol/l). The mean 25OHD concentration was significantly lower when compared with the population mean from the 2015/16 National Diet and Nutrition Survey (children aged 4–10 years) (24 v. 54 nmol/l (95 % CI −38·6, −19·7); P < 0·001). The paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) group had lower mean 25OHD concentrations compared with the non-PICU group, but this was not statistically significant (19·5 v. 31·9 nmol/l; P = 0·11). The higher susceptibility of BAME children to PIMS-TS and also vitamin D deficiency merits contemplation. Whilst any link between vitamin D deficiency and the severity of COVID-19 and related conditions including PIMS-TS requires further evidence, public health measures to improve vitamin D status of the UK BAME population have been long overdue.
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