Vitamin D: NICE calls for Halal options to Prevent Deficiency

The National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (UK) is about to publish guidelines for the prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency after a long period of consultation.

Vitamin D is essential for skeletal growth and bone health. Severe Vitamin D deficiency can result in rickets (among children) and osteomalacia (among children and adults). Some scientific research suggests that low Vitamin D levels contribute to a risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, infertility, MS and many other diseases. National surveys suggest that the majority of Asian/Afro-Caribbeans in the UK may have low Vitamin D status.

This guideline aims to improve the implementation of the UK government’s existing recommendations on Vitamin D to prevent deficiency. It focuses, in particular, on advice for at-risk groups to take a Vitamin D supplement.

The guidelines are aimed at commissioners, managers and other professionals with public health as part of their remit, working within the NHS, local authorities and the wider public, private, voluntary and community sectors.

The focus of the guideline is on at-risk groups previously identified by the UK Health Department. The following groups are advised to take a Vitamin D

  • Infants and children aged under 5
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Older people
  • People with darker skin
  • People who have limited exposure to the sun.

Muslims and Muslim women in particular are amongst the most at risk of vitamin D Deficiency in the United Kingdom.

In the draft consultation document, The Department of Health (DOH) recognised that that suitable Halal Vitamin D supplements must be readily available and that the DOH should work with manufacturers to ensure supplements containing the recommended reference nutrient intake for at- risk groups are available on prescription and are listed in the British National Formulary, including Halal options.

The draft also recommends that Department of Health should amend existing legislation to allow Healthy Start vitamins to be more widely distributed and sold. It should also renegotiate existing arrangements with the manufacturers to encourage them to provide the supplements direct to pharmacies.

The Guidelines are due to be published very soon (November 2014).   It is very much hoped that the supplementation options will include certified Halal options that will allow Muslim patients to participate fully in this important supplementation programme.

More news about the Guidelines will follow soon.

Guideline Consultation Draft – http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/gid-phg71/documents/implementing-vitamin-d-guidance-draft-guideline2

Vitamin D – NHS Choices – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Vitamin-D.aspx

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