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Dangerous deficiency: scientist recommends vitamin D fortification in food
Vitamin D deficiency occurs in a wide variety of population groups. The important vitamin is formed in the skin primarily through a chemical reaction with sunlight. But the lifestyle in this country often goes hand in hand with a very low exposure to sunlight. A scientist is now calling for the fortification of foods with vitamin D.
Widespread vitamin D deficiency
Just a few months ago it was reported that around 60 percent of children and adolescents in Germany have more or less reduced levels of vitamin D. A study also showed that around half of those over 65 years of age are affected by a vitamin D deficiency. In general, the vitamin D supply in Germany is considered to be poor. Some people therefore rely on the additional intake of vitamin D supplements. Health experts say that such remedies are only recommended for a few people. A scientist from Austria now recommends enriching foods with the important vitamin.
Intake in food only in low concentrations
In neighboring Austria, too, a lack of vitamin D is very common in all population groups and can subsequently cause a number of diseases.
Vitamin D is mainly formed in the skin through a chemical reaction with sunlight.
According to a communication from the Medical University of Graz, the vitamin can only be absorbed in very small amounts through food due to the low concentration.
Therefore, some countries have already implemented vitamin D fortification in foods.
Stefan Pilz from the Med Uni Graz also strongly recommends this for Austria.
Lifestyle with low sun exposure
Because vitamin D can only be absorbed in small parts through food due to the low concentration (about 20 percent) - here mainly in the form of fatty fish, dairy products and edible mushrooms - the body's production of vitamin D plays via a chemical skin reaction a very important role.
"Around 80% of the need for vitamin D is generated by the body itself with the help of UV-B radiation," explains Assoz.-Prof. PD Dr. Stefan Pilz, PhD from the Clinical Department for Endocrinology and Diabetology at the Med Uni Graz.
It is therefore important to soak up the sun in the warm months. But in the cold season that is hardly possible.
In addition, many people spend too little time outdoors even in sunny weather. Vitamin D deficiency is therefore a very common phenomenon.
"Our lifestyle, which is associated with very little exposure to sunlight, is primarily responsible for this sometimes very dangerous deficiency," says Stefan Pilz.
Diseases caused by vitamin D deficiency
For example, vitamin D is responsible for a well-functioning calcium balance in the body, the immune system or the hormone system.
An imbalance in the calcium balance caused by vitamin D deficiency can lead to diseases of the bones and muscles.
In addition, an increasing number of infections and pregnancy complications or, in the case of very immunocompromised people, deaths can be attributed to a vitamin D deficiency.
"Vitamin D works in a similar way to thyroid and sex hormones or steroid hormones in the entire body and controls many genes there," explains Pilz. A balanced vitamin D budget is therefore particularly important.
Taking vitamin D supplements
Some people therefore take vitamin D supplements. However, this should always be discussed with the family doctor.
However, such food supplements are not advisable for everyone, experts from the Lower Saxony Chamber of Pharmacists warned.
And the drug commission of the German Medical Association (AkdÄ) pointed out that an overdose with vitamin D supplements can also occur.
Systematic enrichment of food
In some countries, such as the USA, Canada, India or Finland, you go different ways. A systematic enrichment of various foods with vitamin D was introduced to counter the dangerous deficiency.
Together with international colleagues, Stefan Pilz has published a so-called "Guidance Paper" in the journal "Frontiers in Endocrinology", in which the scientifically backed motives for vitamin D enrichment in the food industry are presented and, above all, concrete suggestions and scenarios for implementing them health policy measure are outlined.
Within the European Union, Finland started systematically enriching milk products with vitamin D a few years ago.
“This intervention initiated by the politicians was not only safe and well accepted, but also meant that there are almost no people in the Finnish population who have a vitamin D deficiency with values of 25-hydroxyvitamin D below 12 ng / mL (30 nmol / L), ”explains Stefan Pilz.
"In countries such as. Austria and Germany, a vitamin D enrichment in food like in Finland is a necessary and appropriate measure to save many people the negative health consequences of a vitamin D deficiency, ”said the expert.
"Countries such as the US is carrying out vitamin D fortification in food not only because of the improvement in public health, but also because it results in savings in the health system in terms of cost effectiveness, ”explains the researcher.
He hopes that their publication will help to ensure that this will also be the case in Austria and Germany in the future. (ad)