Building consensus on optimal vitamin D levels in Canada

Key disease organizations support effort to curb vitamin D deficiency

TORONTO, Ont. (November 21, 2014) - A push to develop a Canadian Vitamin D Consensus that can be used to educate Canadians on the importance of optimal vitamin D levels for health is gaining support.

Vitamin D experts from around the world attended a workshop in Toronto earlier this month with the goal of reducing vitamin D deficiency in Canada.

A number of prominent Canadian disease organizations, including the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Osteoporosis Canada, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Prostate Cancer Canada attended the November 4 workshop on vitamin D.

"It's extremely encouraging to see momentum building behind efforts to improve education among Canadians on how to ensure they are getting enough vitamin D. Together, we can help people improve their health and reduce risk to several serious diseases," said workshop chairperson Dr. Reinhold Vieth, retired director of the Bone and Mineral Laboratory at Mount Sinai Hospital and a professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology.

Approximately 11 million Canadians do not meet vitamin D blood level requirements set by Health Canada and the Institute of Medicine. This figure rises to 14 million - 40% of us - during winter months.

Canadians cannot get sufficient levels of vitamin D through sunshine from November to May. Low levels of vitamin D are statistically linked to a higher risk of serious diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and others.

Compounding the problem, more people work indoors and spend less time outdoors than at any previous time in history. Vitamin D can only be produced when the UV index is above 3 and your shadow is shorter than your height. Avoiding the sun or use of sunscreens can hinder the production of vitamin D from sunlight in your skin. As a result, many Canadians experience decreasing vitamin D levels and the risk of serious health implications.

When completed, the Vitamin D Consensus will provide a unified recommendation to counter widespread misinformation on optimal vitamin D intake levels.

'We need to do more to increase knowledge about proper vitamin D levels to help Canadians enjoy better health," said Dr. Vieth. "Promoting educational awareness is a relatively simple way to reduce disease and improve quality of life for many people."

The workshop was funded by The Vitamin D Society and Pure North S'Energy Foundation to mark Vitamin D Awareness Month in November.

About the Vitamin D Society

The Vitamin D Society is a Canadian non-profit group organized to increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency; encourage people to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D levels tested annually; and help fund valuable vitamin D research. The Vitamin D Society recommends people achieve and maintain optimal 25(OH)D levels between 100 - 150 nmol/L (Can) or 40 - 60 ng/ml (USA).

For more information, please contact:

Perry Holman

Vitamin D Society

877-520-4867

pholman at vitamindsociey.org

www.vitamindsociety.org