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Researchers introduce a personal vitamin D response index

The need for vitamin D supplementation may depend on individual responsiveness to the pre-hormone. Low responders should aim at a higher vitamin D status, according to a recent review.

Our skin produces vitamin D3 when exposed to sunlight, but when there’s insufficient sunlight exposure, most of us need to get vitamin D from food or supplements. However, there is some debate about adequate vitamin D levels and the appropriate amount of daily vitamin D supplementation.

A person’s vitamin D status is determined by measuring the serum level of the vitamin D3 metabolite 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. But this measurement may be insufficient in assessing the person’s need for supplementation, say authors of a review article in Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Carsten Carlberg, Professor of Biochemistry at UEF, and Afrozul Haq, Director of Research and Development at Gulf Diagnostic Center Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Two intervention trials carried out at UEF, VitDmet and VitDbol, have shown that individuals differ in their molecular response to vitamin D supplementation. Participants could be divided into high, medium and low responders by measuring a variety of vitamin D sensitive molecular parameters. This dynamic response to vitamin D often didn’t correlate with vitamin D status.

Thus, the authors introduce the concept of a personal vitamin D response index that reveals the efficiency of the molecular response to supplementation with vitamin D. “Everyone should be aware not only of their vitamin D status, but also of their vitamin D response index,” they suggest.

When a person’s vitamin D response index is known, supplementation can be designed accordingly. One in four individuals can be expected to be a low responder. For them, supplementation aiming at a high vitamin D status may be called for in order to get the protective health benefits of the vitamin. Vitamin D is important for musculoskeletal health, but an adequate intake may also protect against a variety of diseases, such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Carsten Carlberg, Carsten.carlberg (a) uef.fi, +358 403553062

Review article:

Carsten Carlberg, Afrozul Haq. The concept of the personal vitamin D response index. The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Published online 26 December 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2016.12.011