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New European guidance on vitamin D intake

Author: MS Trust

Following a request from the European Commission the European Food Safety Authority panel on dietetic products, nutrition and allergy has produced new guidance on Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for vitamin D supplementation.

Adults 18 years or older = 4,000 U/day or 100 micrograms/day
Children 11-17 years of age = 4,000 U/day or 100 micrograms/day
Children 1-10 years of age = 2,000 U/day or 50 micrograms/day
Infants less than 1year of age = 1,000 U/day or 25 micrograms/day

Maximum safe dose (or no observed adverse effect level) = 11,000 U/day or 275 micrograms/day

*40 IU (International Unit) is equivalent to 1 microgram (µg) of vitamin D2 or D3.

Vitamin D has several important roles in the body including regulating immune responses. Its possible role in multiple sclerosis is the focus of much debate and research.

Research into the possible role of vitamin D has focused on two areas:

  • Whether lack of vitamin D contributes to the risk of developing MS - Studies of the distribution of MS around the world show that it is generally more common the further you are from the equator. This suggests a link between lack of exposure to sunlight, consequent lack of vitamin D production and the development of MS.
  • Whether low levels of vitamin D affect the number of relapses and the disease course. - There is some evidence that lower levels of vitamin D are associated with higher relapse rates and greater disability. One study also found that people with progressive forms of MS had lower levels than those with relapsing remitting MS.

Studies are underway to look more closely at vitamin D deficiency in people with MS and to investigate what might be a safe and therapeutic dose.

Vitamin D - A to Z of MS
European Food Safety Authority Journal 2012;10(7):2813