A government report published today recommends that everyone should aim to consume 10 micrograms of vitamin D (400 IU) each day to ensure healthy bones and muscles.
The SACN (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) Vitamin D working group has reviewed the evidence on vitamin D and health to see if UK dietary recommendations, set in 1991, are still appropriate.
In a change to previous advice, SACN is now recommending that people aged 4 years and older should aim to take 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D a day in order to ensure musculoskeletal health.
Based on this report, Public Health England advises that in spring and summer, the majority of the population get enough vitamin D through sunlight on the skin and a healthy, balanced diet. During autumn and winter, people should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D.
As well as looking at evidence for the benefits of vitamin D on bone health, the report also reviewed research into the role of vitamin D in a range of other health conditions, including multiple sclerosis. The report concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend taking higher doses of vitamin D for the prevention or treatment of MS.
The role of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis has been the focus of much debate. There is evidence that low levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of getting MS. In established MS, low levels of vitamin D have been associated with relapses and increased disability.
So far, initial studies have failed to show that taking supplements to increase vitamin D levels will reduce the risk of getting MS or reduce the severity of MS. Larger studies are underway to further evaluate vitamin D supplementation. See vitamin D in the A-Z of MS for more details.
While results from these larger studies are awaited, some MS neurologists recommend that people with MS and family members supplement with 4000-5000 IU a day vitamin D (100-125 micrograms) but opinions vary widely as to whether this is appropriate.
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