Vitamin D status and effects of food fortification in families

Katja Howarth Madsen

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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Background and aims: The importance of vitamin D in bone health is recognised and low concentrations have been associated with increased risk of disease. Cutaneous synthesis is considered the major source of vitamin D, but during winter where sufficient sun exposure is restricted at Northern latitudes, intake from food and dietary supplements become essential. Vitamin D intakes are lower than dietary recommendations in most populations and low vitamin D status is common.The PhD thesis is based on the VitmaD study in which a realistic and model derived fortification strategy was investigated in a real-life setting. The aim was to investigate the effect of increasing vitamin D intake by fortification of milk and bread to the amount recommended in the Nordic Nutrition recommendations (NNR) on serum 25(OH)D concentration in families during winter in Denmark (paper 1). Secondly, the aim was to assess vitamin D status and its determinants at baseline of the study (paper 2). Further, to model the relationship between total vitamin D intake and serum 25(OH)D taking into account potential effect modifiers and estimate required vitamin D intake during winter (paper 3).Methods: The VitmaD study was a randomized controlled trial in 782 children and adults (4-60 years) recruited as 201 families. Families were randomly assigned to vitamin D fortified or nonfortified milk and bread for 6 months starting from September. The milk and bread replaced the subjects´ usual consumptions of products. Information on dietary intake, supplement use, health and lifestyle was obtained by self-administered web-based questionnaires. Serum 25(OH)D was analysed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS-MS). Mixed models with family as a random factor were applied in all the statistical analyses.Results: At baseline of the study (late summer) the geometric mean (IQR) serum 25(OH)D concentration was 72.1 (61.5-86.7) nmol/L with no overall differences between age (P=0.190), gender (P=0.332) or age and gender groups (P=0.223) (paper 2). The prevalence of serum 25(OH)D <50 nmol/L was 9 %. In the multiple analysis of all subjects, vitamin D status was negatively associated with BMI (P<0.001) and positively associated with dietary vitamin D (P=0.008), multivitamin use (P=0.019), solarium use (P=0.006), outdoor stay in light clothes (P=0.001), sun preference (P=0.002) and sun vacation (P<0.001). The intra-family correlation was stronger in children (0.42) compared with adults (0.24). Thus children within a family seemed to be more alike than adults within a family with respect to vitamin D status.The planned fortification strategy was to increase the vitamin D intake to 7.5 µg/day. This succeeded in 66 % of the subjects in the fortification group with a median vitamin D intake (habitual diet plus fortified milk and bread) of 9.4 µg/day compared with 2.2 µg/day in the control group (paper 1). During winter the serum 25(OH)D concentration decreased from 73.1 to 67.6 nmol/L (-Δ5.5 nmol/L) in the fortification group (P<0.001) and from 71.1 to 41.7 nmol/L (-Δ29.4 nmol/L) in the control group (P<0.001). The final serum 25(OH)D concentration was significantly higher in the fortification group compared with in the control group (P<0.001, interpreted estimate 1.59) and the treatment effect was not affected by BMI, multivitamin use and sun vacation. The prevalence of serum 25(OH)D <50 nmol/L remained low in the fortification group (16 %) whereas it increased to 65 % in the control group.The relationship between total vitamin D intake from natural foods, fortified milk and bread and dietary supplements and serum 25(OH)D concentration in winter was best fitted by a non-linear curve (paper 3). The effect of total vitamin D intake on serum 25(OH)D concentration was 4 % higher in men compared with women (P<0.014) and 10 % higher in the group with lowest initial 25(OH)D concentration (<61.5 nmol/L) compared with the group with highest initial 25(OH)D concentration (>86.9 nmol/L) (P<0.001). It was not modified by age (P=0.132) or BMI (P=0.884). Estimated required vitamin D intake was 5, 11, 23 and 39 µg/day for 50, 75, 90 and 95 % of the population to maintain vitamin D status >50 nmol/L during winter. These figures were higher for the group with lowest initial 25(OH)D concentration (11, 18, 34 and >34 µg/day) and lower for the group with highest initial 25(OH)D concentration (<1, 3, 8 and 17 µg/day).Conclusions: In the population of Danish families, serum 25(OH)D concentration was above 50 nmol/L in late summer and it was associated with both dietary and sun related factors. Children within a family seemed to be more alike than adults within a family with respect to vitamin D status. Vitamin D fortification of milk and bread reduced the decrease in serum 25(OH)D concentration during winter and ensured concentrations above 50 nmol/L. The relationship between total vitamin D intake and vitamin D status was non-linear. Estimated total vitamin D intake to maintain serum 25(OH)D above 50 nmol/L was largely dependent on the initial vitamin D status.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark
Number of pages129
ISBN (Print)978-87-93109-01-8
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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