Vitamin D fortification in the United States and Canada: current status and data needs

Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1710S-6S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/80.6.1710S.


Most circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D originates from exposure to sunlight; nevertheless, many factors can impair this process, necessitating periodic reliance on dietary sources to maintain adequate serum concentrations. The US and Canadian populations are largely dependent on fortified foods and dietary supplements to meet these needs, because foods naturally rich in vitamin D are limited. Fluid milk and breakfast cereals are the predominant vehicles for vitamin D in the United States, whereas Canada fortifies fluid milk and margarine. Reports of a high prevalence of hypovitaminosis D and its association with increased risks of chronic diseases have raised concerns regarding the adequacy of current intake levels and the safest and most effective way to increase vitamin D intake in the general population and in vulnerable groups. The usual daily intakes of vitamin D from food alone and from food and supplements combined, as estimated from the US third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1994, show median values above the adequate intake of 5 microg/d for children 6-11 y of age; however, median intakes are generally below the adequate intake for female subjects > 12 y of age and men > 50 y. In Canada, there are no national survey data for estimation of intake. Cross-sectional studies suggest that current US/Canadian fortification practices are not effective in preventing hypovitaminosis D, particularly among vulnerable populations during the winter, whereas supplement use shows more promise. Recent prospective intervention studies with higher vitamin D concentrations provided evidence of safety and efficacy for fortification of specific foods and use of supplements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Food Labeling
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Safety
  • Sex Factors
  • Sunlight
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / adverse effects
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / prevention & control*


  • Vitamin D