Saturday, 29 November 2014

NICE does increasing access to vitamin D supplements

If you happen to live in England or indeed other parts of the UK, you'll no doubt have heard about NICE - the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence - as the body charged with providing us with appropriate evidence-based guidance on all manner of treatments and technologies for all manner of different diagnoses and conditions. I've talked before on this blog about the NICE guidance in relation to the autism spectrum (see here for example).
My name is Elisabeth Shaw,
last survivor of the Prometheus.

Well, after turning it's clinical eye to the sunshine vitamin/hormone (vitamin D), NICE has at last provided some guidance on this matter with a view to increasing access to vitamin D supplements as a means to help tackle some pretty frightening figures with regards to the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. The full guidance can be seen here and some media coverage can be viewed here.

A quick look over the list of people for whom this guidance might be relevant (children under 5, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people over 65, people who have low or no exposure to the sun, people with darker skin) reveals that quite a large chunk of the population might benefit from supplementation or increased access to supplementation. Certainly, quite a few people living at my latitude - bearing in mind latitude might not the only factor influencing vitamin D production [1] - might benefit from a daily vitamin D supplement, if only at specific times of the year.

I'll freely admit that even with some scientific doubts remaining about vitamin D supplementation impacting on health and wellbeing outside of just preventing rickets, I'm a bit of a fan of further research into the other manifestations potentially linked to vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency. As if to prove a point, below are a few links to previous posts where relationships have been discussed bearing in mind the old adage: correlation is not the same as causation...

I close with a quote from NICE on this issue: "NICE recommends making low cost vitamin D supplements widely available to people at risk of deficiency." I struggle to disagree.

Music to close... and especially for one of my brood: Girlfriend in a Coma. As for my indulgence, the first trailer for Star Wars VII just in case you haven't seen it yet. I have a gut feeling that it's gonna be a bit of classic...


[1] Lucas RM. et al. Vitamin D status: multifactorial contribution of environment, genes and other factors in healthy Australian adults across a latitude gradient. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2013 Jul;136:300-8.

---------- Lucas RM, Ponsonby AL, Dear K, Valery PC, Taylor B, van der Mei I, McMichael AJ, Pender MP, Chapman C, Coulthard A, Kilpatrick TJ, Stankovich J, Williams D, & Dwyer T (2013). Vitamin D status: multifactorial contribution of environment, genes and other factors in healthy Australian adults across a latitude gradient. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 136, 300-8 PMID: 23395985