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J Nutr. 2005 Feb;135(2):304-9.

Dietary recommendations for vitamin D: a critical need for functional end points to establish an estimated average requirement.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.


From its inaugural value in 1941, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults for vitamin D has remained close to 400 IU (10 microg) level. This original recommended intake was based on the observation that the amount of vitamin D activity in a teaspoon of cod liver oil was sufficient to prevent rickets in infants. Since that time until 1997, determination of vitamin D requirements and status was more conjecture than science. In 1997, when the recommended intake level of vitamin D was set as an adequate intake value rather than an RDA, much has been learned about metabolism of vitamin D. The circulating metabolite 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the major static indicator of vitamin D status. Using its response to diet in the absence of sun exposure, a dose-response study suggests a mean requirement of at least 500 IU (12.5 microg) from which an RDA could be set. Other factors may need adjustment, such as sun exposure and body fat. However, functional indicators of status are needed. The role of vitamin D in calcium metabolism (i.e., calciotropic functions) is better understood; bone turnover and parathyroid hormone are potential indicators. Vitamin D has noncalciotropic functions arising from extrarenal synthesis of the active metabolite 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D involving cell proliferation and immunity, from which function indicators of status may be derived. Despite gaps in our knowledge, there are data from which new dietary reference intake values for vitamin D may be set.

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