CHICAGO —With such unknowns about health benefits, optimal intake and dietary guidance for vitamin D, the baking industry would be wise to proceed with caution in the vitamin D fortification of its products until more science-based guidance is released, according to the white paper “Vitamin D Matters: Where Does the Bakery Industry Fit?”

Roberta L. Duyff a registered dietitian and food and nutrition consultant for Duyff Associates, St. Louis, put together the white paper. She also wrote the American Dietetic Association Complete Food & Nutrition Guide (2006).

AB Mauri Fleischmann’s presented the white paper to Milling & Baking News during the American Society of Baking’s Baking Tech 2010 held Feb. 28 to March 3 in Chicago.

Fortification may play a substantial role in addressing public health concerns about vitamin D shortcomings, according to the white paper. Regulations are in place for discretionary vitamin D fortification of baked foods in the United States but not in Canada.

The white paper said:
•Except for bone health, scientific evidence on the health benefits of vitamin D is inconclusive.
•Although a U.S. dietary guidance advisory committee recognizes vitamin D as a shortfall nutrient, new Institute of Medicine recommendations may not be released in time for full consideration in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
• The government allows the following health claims: “Adequate calcium and vitamin D throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis” or “Adequate calcium and vitamin D throughout life, along with physical activity, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.” However, according to the white paper, bakery products cannot be fortified at levels high enough for vitamin D and calcium to make this health claim.
•The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s fortification level for grain products, including baked foods, is 90 International Units (I.U.) or less per 100-gram serving. This level does not allow enough vitamin D in grain products to reach an “excellent source” claim.
•Manufacturers would need to consider a fortification process that allows for controlled levels of vitamin D.
•The baking industry, in partnership with other nutrition education efforts, would need to make a science-based consumer information effort for vitamin D overall, including bakery products fortified with vitamin D. Except for fortified breakfast cereals in the United States, grain products are not recognized readily by consumers as sources of vitamin D.