U.K Government and German Researchers Take Strong Position on Providing Citizens with Vitamin D Supplements
Source: GOV.UK Vitamin D and care homes guidance (January 15, 2021) and Molecular Oncology (February 2021)
Lifestyle Medicine Update(February 23, 2021)
Two very impressive publications regarding vitamin D supplementation appeared just a few months apart in late 2020 and early 2021, whereby the UK government announced that it has decided to make vitamin D supplements available to over 2.5 million older citizens living in Care Homes throughout the country, and German researchers showed that if a similar approach were implemented by the Germany government it would reduce 30,000 cancer deaths per year in that country. Here is what transpired. In November 2020, the UK government decided that it was in the best interest of its citizens to begin shipping vitamin D supplements, free of charge, to older persons living in care homes throughout the country, who can now request a 4-month supply.
They strongly urge this group of individuals to take a vitamin D supplement for bone health, but in light of the evidence showing that higher vitamin D blood levels may also reduce the risk of mortality from Covid-19, this was the year the government decided to take action. This is coupled with the fact that it has been more difficult for older persons to get outdoors this past year to make vitamin D from sunlight. Even still, vitamin D levels are known to plummet in the winter months among most citizens in the UK, including older subjects. The daily vitamin D supplement they are sending to their citizens contains 400 IU of vitamin D.
I personally feel this a too low a dose to be highly meaningful. Apparently, German researchers agree with me. In February 2021, a group of German researchers published a ground-breaking study in the journal Molecular Oncology. Their research review cites three previous meta-analysis studies showing that vitamin D supplementation at 1,000 IU per day is associated with a reduction in cancer death rates by 13%. Scientists at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) have now transferred these results to the situation in Germany and calculated the following, “If all Germans over the age of 50 were to take vitamin D supplements, up to 30,000 cancer deaths per year could possibly be avoided and more than 300,000 years of life could be gained — in addition, health care costs could be saved.” The scientists based this calculation on a daily administration of 1,000 IU of vitamin D at a cost of 25 euros per person per year. In 2016, approximately 36 million people over the age of 50 lived in Germany, resulting in annual supplementation costs of 900 million euros. Factoring in a reduction in cancer care costs of 13% fewer cancers per year, this model calculates an annual saving of €254 million to the health care system if citizens over 50 were provided with 1,000 IU Vitamin D per day.
Once again, I would advise you to know your blood level of vitamin D. For most people, the ideal range is between 80-140 nmol/L or 32-56 ng/ml. This is the blood level that appears to best support immune function and reduces the risk of acute respiratory infection, as well as protecting bones and possibly providing important anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-cardiovascular disease, and other benefits. Most people need at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D supplementation each day to attain this blood level if they live above or below the 40th-degree latitude. In the northern hemisphere, the 40th-degree latitude bisects the United States roughly in half as you go from south to north. Everyone in Canada, for example, lives well above the 40th-degree latitude.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
UK Government Announcement:
Tobias Niedermaier, Thomas Gredner, Sabine Kuznia, Ben Schöttker, Ute Mons, Hermann Brenner. Vitamin D supplementation to the older adult population in Germany has the cost-saving potential of preventing almost 30,000 cancer deaths per year. Molecular Oncology, 2021 https://febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/1878-0261.12924
Vitamin D and Respiratory Tract Infections:
Bergman P, Lindh A, Bjorkhem-Bergman, Lindh J. Vitamin D and respiratory tract infections: A systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. PLOS (peer-reviewed, open access journal). 2013; 8(6):e65835 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3686844
Vitamin D and Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Osteoporosis
Holick MF. Vitamin D: Importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Am J Clin Nutr. Vol 79, Issue 3. March 2004
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.