Vitamin D

A Quick Guide

Vitamin D Declared a Nutrient of Public Health Concern

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 calls out vitamin D as one of the five nutrients of public health concern for Americans, along with calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, and for certain populations, iron.1 A nutrient of public health concern is defined as a nutrient that is underconsumed by the population and whose underconsumption is associated with health risks. Due to vitamin D’s role in promoting calcium absorption, a vitamin D deficiency carries with it the same risks as a deficiency in calcium.

Nutrition Label Changes for Vitamin D

The new nutrition label regulations specify that all five of the nutrients of public health concern must be listed on the nutrition label. This means that vitamins A and C are being replaced by vitamin D and potassium as mandatory label nutrients, which will help encourage consumer awareness of these two new nutrients of concern. Calcium, iron, and dietary fiber will remain on the label.

In addition, the mandatory label vitamins and minerals must now be declared by weight, as well as % DV, on the nutrition label. For vitamin D, there is also a unit change—from International Units (IU) to micrograms (mcg), although IU may still be listed voluntarily in parentheses. The DV of vitamin D is also undergoing a significant change—a doubling from 400 IU (10 mcg) to 20 mcg  (800 IU).

For manufacturers who currently voluntarily declare vitamin D on their products, it’s important to be aware of the impact of this change to the declared daily value and related packaging claims. For example, an existing product that currently claims “excellent source of vitamin D” (20% DV or 2 mcg) would no longer qualify for that claim under the new regulations. Since the Daily Value of Vitamin D has doubled to 20 mcg under the new regulation, a product with 2 mcg Vitamin D now only contains 10% DV, and so would not be eligible for an ‘excellent source’ claim.

In such a case, a manufacturer could choose to make no changes to the product formulation, and instead update their product labeling for compliance to the new Regulation. The required label changes would include declaring Vitamin D in mcg units, displaying the Daily Value as 10% DV and reducing their content claim to “good source of vitamin D”.  Another option is to add additional Vitamin D into their product via a custom nutrient premix in order to maintain the “excellent source of vitamin D” claim and the declared % DV on the nutrition label.

Why We Need Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin best known for its important relationship with calcium. Vitamin D can be obtained from certain foods and dietary supplements, but it can also be produced in the skin if there is sufficient exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Since vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the intestine, a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with a softening of the bones (i.e., osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children), as well as osteoporosis and arthritis.

Since vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the intestine, a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with a softening of the bones (i.e., osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children), as well as osteoporosis and arthritis.

Vitamin D is involved in a number of functions in the body, including:

  • Calcium absorption
  • Development of teeth and bones
  • Cell growth and maturation
  • Immune system regulation
  • Nerve and muscle function

The groups with the highest risks of insufficient vitamin D include breastfed infants, people with limited sun exposure, and people with dark skin. Also at risk are older adults, in part due to their decreased ability to synthesize vitamin D, and those with inflammatory bowel disease, which can reduce the intestine’s ability to absorb fat.

How Much Vitamin D Do We Really Need?

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Food Sources of Vitamin D

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Brighten Their Day with Vitamin D

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