Vitamin D Biofortification of Pork May Offer a Food-Based Strategy to Increase Vitamin D Intakes in the UK Population

Holly R. Neill, Chris I. R. Gill, Emma J. McDonald, W. Colin McRoberts, L. Kirsty Pourshahidi

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Hypovitaminosis D is prevalent worldwide, with many populations failing to achieve the recommended nutrient intake (RNI) for vitamin D (10–20 μg/day). Owing to low vitamin D intakes, limited exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) induced dermal synthesis, lack of mandatory fortification and poor uptake in supplement advice, additional food-based strategies are warranted to enable the UK population to achieve optimal vitamin D intakes, thus reducing musculoskeletal risks or suboptimal immune functioning. The aims of the current study were to (1) determine any changes to vitamin D intake and status over a 9-year period, and (2) apply dietary modeling to predict the impact of vitamin D biofortification of pork and pork products on population intakes. Data from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey (Year 1–9; 2008/09–2016/17) were analyzed to explore nationally representative mean vitamin D intakes and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations (n = 13,350). Four theoretical dietary scenarios of vitamin D pork biofortification were computed (vitamin D content +50/100/150/200% vs. standard). Vitamin D intake in the UK population has not changed significantly from 2008 to 2017 and in 2016/17, across all age groups, 13.2% were considered deficient [25(OH)D
Original languageEnglish
Article number777364
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in nutrition
Early online date3 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished online - 3 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare that this study received funding from Devenish Nutrition Ltd., in the form of a CAST PhD Studentship awarded to the lead author. The funder had the following involvement in the study: review and approval of the final manuscript.

Funding Information:
Participants from the UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Program (NDNS) Years 1–9 (2008/09–2016/17) dataset were used in the present manuscript. Details regarding the design, participant selection, recruitment process and data collection of NDNS are reported in full elsewhere (32– 36). In short, jointly funded by Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency, NDNS is a UK-wide continuous cross-sectional survey. Fieldwork began in 2008 and provides quantitative comprehensive information regarding diet, nutritional status, sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle, and physical activity levels from a nationally representative sample of the general UK population aged 1.5 years and older. Using household post-code details from the Post-code Address File, participants were stratified and randomly recruited to take part. All food and drink consumption were estimated by participants using a self-reported 3 or 4-day food diary. Nutrient intakes were then quantified using McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods Integrated Dataset (CoFID). Following written consent, fasting blood samples were collected by venepuncture and transported in a cool box to a local processing field laboratory within 2 h of blood collection. All samples were centrifuged at 2,000 g for 20 min at 4◦C and aliquoted. Survey years 1–6 (2008–2014) used competitive chemiluminescence immunoassay (CLIA) to determine plasma and serum 25(OH)D, whilst Years 7–9 (2014–2017) measured serum 25(OH)D by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Quality controls were included within each batch of samples and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) confirmed accuracy. Involvement in blood sampling was lower than other aspects of NDNS observations and therefore, participant numbers are inconsistent between vitamin D intake and status. Ethical approval was obtained from Oxfordshire Research Ethics Committee (Ref. No. 07/H0604/113) and data were made available from the UK Data Archives (37).

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the participants of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey whose contribution enabled the present work.

Funding Information:
This work was funded as part of a Department for the Economy (DfE) Co-operative Awards in Science and Technology (CAST) PhD studentship, supported by Devenish Nutrition Limited.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 Neill, Gill, McDonald, McRoberts and Pourshahidi.


  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)
  • National Diet and Nutrition Survey
  • UVB radiation
  • bio-addition
  • cholecalciferol
  • dietary modeling
  • feed supplementation
  • meat


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