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Vitamin D and Health in the 21st Century

October 9-10, 2003
NIH Conference
Bethesda, Maryland


Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is unique, both in terms of its metabolism/physiology, and the human reliance on both endogenous production and exogenous sources to meet biological requirements. It is the interaction between the two primary sources of biologically active vitamin D that has historically been the focal point of public policy aimed at meeting the population requirements and the amelioration of environmentally mediated epidemics of vitamin D deficiency, i.e., vitamin D-related rickets.

Recently, evidence has been published indicating a re-emergence of vitamin D-deficient rickets and an alarming prevalence of low circulating levels of vitamin D in the United States population. Until the revelation of these data, it had been assumed that vitamin D deficiency had been eliminated as a significant problem, and that the strategies used to achieve this success (i.e., food fortification) served as role models of successful public health interventions. Speculation about factors that may be contributing to the rise in vitamin D deficiency (i.e., significantly reduced levels of circulating vitamin D) and vitamin D-related rickets in the United States and internationally) has included the following:

The current situation regarding vitamin D status and the development of effective policies to address problems associated with vitamin D insufficiency in the United States and internationally reflects data needs regarding several key issues, including: A number of outstanding issues create a hindrance to the promulgation of meaningful public health policy in this regard. Many of these issues were identified by an Expert Panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and include: The two-day conference is organized to achieve the following goals: By addressing these goals, the organizers will develop a focused research program that will provide data essential for the promulgation of evidence-based public policy about achieving vitamin D adequacy in the United States and elsewhere.

The opening session of the conference will include: overview presentations about the epidemiology of vitamin D deficiency in the United States and internationally; an overview of vitamin D biology; and current policies and how they may be impacting on the vitamin D status of women and infants in the United States.

Consistent with themes developed during previous NIH workshops on dietary supplement use, the agenda of this conference will include discussions of four key topical areas from a developmental and methodological perspective. The thematic topics include

The session panel discussions are intended to be interactive opportunities for cross-fertilization of ideas between a panel of experts on the subjects covered in the plenary session, and the audience. Panels will consist of plenary speakers, additional members as identified by session chairs, and the session chair. Panels will be charged with reaching some conclusions with regard to pre-assigned questions. To encourage active dialogue and a productive group dynamic, each panel member will be provided a brief opportunity to present current thinking on the subject topic.

At the end of each session, session chairs will summarize the results of the deliberations and identify three-to-five future research priorities. The summaries will become part of the official meeting record and will be used by the conference organizers for program-planning activities and compilation of the conference proceedings.


This conference will be of interest to policy makers, consumers, clinicians, and academics with a background and/or interest in vitamin D.

The NIH/FAES is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The NIH/FAES designates this educational activity for a maximum of 12 category 1 credits toward the AMA Physician's Recognition Award. Each physician should claim only those credits that he/she actually spent in the activity.

Application has been made for 11.5 Continuing Professional Education Units from the American Dietetic Association (ADA).

Copyright © 2003, NIH