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Towards a strategy for optimal vitamin D fortification

Contract number : QLK1-2000-00623
Contract type : Shared Cost Project
Total cost : € 1.754.698
EC contribution : € 1.754.698
Starting date : 1/01/2001
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Alkmini Katsada
Project website :
Dr Christine Brot
Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
Institute for Food Research and Nutrition
Mørkhøj Bygade 19
2860 Søborg
Tel.: +4533956332
Fax: +4533951119
E-mail: cxb @

Vitamin D deficiency is known to be very common in the elderly. It represents a major public health problem as it is recognised to be an important risk factor for hip fractures, which are associated with significant excess mortality, disability and economic costs. There is presently also disturbing evidence of rickets reappearing in Europe, particularly in immigrant populations. It has, in addition, been pointed out that the levels of parathyroid hormone seen in many Europeans, particularly in the winter, are high enough to indicate a degree of hyperparathyroidism, which could be associated, particularly in the rapidly growing young, with an undesirable departure from achievement of optimal bone mass.

Vitamin D fortification and/or supplementation strategies are an effective and reasonably cheap way of arresting preventable health consequences. But there are many unknowns in relation to the strategy of vitamin D fortification of food, particularly concerning the levels achieving optimal effects without toxicity.


The overall objective is to investigate whether fortification of food with vitamin D is a feasible strategy to remedy the insufficient vitamin D status of large population groups in Europe, and to determine at what level fortification should be pitched. The minimal effective dose with respect to vitamin D status, calcium metabolism and bone will be assessed in adolescent girls, elderly women and an immigrant population group. The seasonal variation of vitamin D status across Europe and the relative contributions of sun exposure and dietary habits, including food fortification and vitamin D supplementation will be evaluated in young and elderly. The technical feasibility of fortifying a low-fat food with vitamin D and the bio-availability of the incorporated vitamin will be determined, as well as the acceptability to the consumer.

(expected) Results and achievements

This project aims -taking a long term view- at improving vitamin D status of the European population, and thus takes up many facets of general health with particular reference to bone integrity. The expected results should make it possible across Europe

  • To tailor vitamin D fortification optimally with respect to population needs.
  • To make use of a low-fat healthy food as fortification vehicle in accordance with European nutrition recommendations
  • An important outcome is to reinforce the scientific base for recommendations on vitamin D as a nutrient.


University of Helsinki
Department of Applied Chemistry and Microbiology
Division of Nutrition
Latokartanonkaari 11
PO Box 27
00014 University of Helsinki
The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University
Research Department of Human Nutrition
Rolighedsvej 30
1958 Frederiksberg C
National University of Ireland, Cork
University College Cork
Department of Food Science Technology and Nutrition
Western Road
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Dpto Nutrición
Facultad de Farmacia
Ciudad Universitaria
28040 Madrid
National Food and Nutrition Institute
Department of Epidemiology and Nutrition
Powsinka 61/63
02-903 Warsaw

Fifth Framework Programme

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