Including food 25-hydroxyvitamin D in intake estimates may reduce the discrepancy between dietary and serum measures of vitamin D status

J Nutr. 2014 May;144(5):654-9. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.189811. Epub 2014 Mar 12.


The discrepancy between the commonly used vitamin D status measures-intake and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations--has been perplexing. Sun exposure increases serum 25(OH)D concentrations and is often used as an explanation for the higher population-based serum concentrations in the face of apparently low vitamin D intake. However, sun exposure may not be the total explanation. 25(OH)D, a metabolite of vitamin D, is known to be present in animal-based foods. It has been measured and reported only sporadically and is not currently factored into U.S. estimates of vitamin D intake. Previously unavailable preliminary USDA data specifying the 25(OH)D content of a subset of foods allowed exploration of the potential change in the reported overall vitamin D content of foods when the presence of 25(OH)D was included. The issue of 25(OH)D potency was addressed, and available commodity intake estimates were used to outline trends in projected vitamin D intake when 25(OH)D in foods was taken into account. Given the data available, there were notable increases in the total vitamin D content of a number of animal-based foods when potency-adjusted 25(OH)D was included, and in turn there was a potentially meaningful increase (1.7-2.9 μg or 15-30% of average requirement) in vitamin D intake estimates. The apparent increase could reduce discrepancies between intake estimates and serum 25(OH)D concentrations. The relevance to dietary interventions is discussed, and the need for continued exploration regarding 25(OH)D measurement is highlighted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Chickens
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Eggs
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Poultry
  • Rats
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamins / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D