Researchers from the Department of Nutritional Sciences are working on Europe’s largest ever investigation into vitamin D deficiency.
The four-year project, funded by €6m from the EU and led by University College Cork, will investigate the health impacts of vitamin D*, and aims to set European guidelines for vitamin D requirements for all age groups. It will also explore ways of boosting vitamin D levels through food, which could include fortification or changes to animal feed.
The study, called ODIN (Food-Based Solutions for Optimal Vitamin D Nutrition and Health through the Life Cycle), involves researchers from 31 institutions in 18 European countries and the United States.
At Surrey, which has been allocated around €0.5m funding, research will include a randomised control trial in 14 to 18-year-olds that will provide key data for setting dietary requirements for that age group. Dr Laura Tripkovic, Dr Kath Hart and Professor Susan Lanham-New are on the ODIN Surrey team, and the project will also utilise the results of their pioneering research into the health benefits of different types of vitamin D.
Professor Lanham-New, Head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, said: “It is fantastic that the EU has committed funding to this project, which will come up with some very novel food-based solutions to preventing vitamin D deficiency in Europe.”
*Vitamin D, which we mostly get from sunlight, has several important functions including regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body - nutrients needed to keep bones and teeth healthy. It also impacts on healthy growth and development, and successful aging.