Experts Recommend Screening for Vitamin D Deficiency in At-Risk Individuals

The clinical practice guideline focuses on new recommendations for Vitamin D screening in at-risk patients such as infants, pregnant women, and the elderly.

has released "Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline." The clinical practice guideline (CPG) focuses on new recommendations for Vitamin D screening in at-risk patients such as infants, pregnant women, and the elderly.

Very few foods contain Vitamin D naturally, and as such, the major source of the vitamin for both children and adults is exposure to natural sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is common all over the world; results of the deficiency are abnormalities of calcium, phosphorus and bone metabolism which can lead to muscle weakness, osteomalacia, osteopenia and osteoporosis.

For children, Vitamin D deficiency can result in skeletal deformities known as rickets.

"Vitamin D deficiency is very common in all age groups and it is important that physicians and health care providers have the best evidence-based recommendations for evaluating, treating and preventing vitamin D deficiency in patients at highest risk," said Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, of the Boston University School of Medicine and chair of the task force that authored the CPG.

"The Society's new Clinical Practice Guideline was developed by experts in the field who carefully reviewed the current literature and features the latest and most comprehensive recommendations available on the prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency," stated Holick.

The CPG recommends that physicians should not only screen for Vitamin D deficiency in individuals whose risk is high for deficiency, but they should also measure Vitamin D levels in these individuals initially using a reliable evaluation; treatment, stated the CPG, should be to administer either VitaminD2 or Vitamin D3.

The CPG also features recommendations for dietary intake of Vitamin D in patients at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.

According to the CPG, infants and children age 0-1 year require at least 400 IU per day (IU=25 ng) of Vitamin D, while children aged one year and older require a minimum of 600 IU/day to maximize bone health.

Adults aged nineteen to fifty years require at least 600 IU per day of Vitamin D to maximize bone health and muscle function, while adults aged fifty and up require 600—800 IU per day of Vitamin D.

The CPG suggested that pregnant women take in at least 600 IU per day of Vitamin D.

"At the present time, there is not sufficient evidence to recommend screening individuals who are not at risk for deficiency or to prescribe vitamin D to attain the non-calcemic benefit for cardiovascular protection," said Holick.

The CPG will be published in the July 2011 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.