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28/10/2022
Expert assessment

Vitamin D : no endocrine disruptor label on food products

ANSES advises against including vitamin D3 in the list of substances to be mentioned as endocrine disruptors on food products, as part of implementation of the French AGEC Act.

A vitamin that is essential to the effective functioning of our bodies


Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is essential to the effective functioning of our bodies and plays a crucial role in maintaining bone tissue. We get it from our diet (dairy products, fish, eggs), and our skin produces it when exposed to the sun. However, more than one in three French people are unable to meet their physiological requirements in vitamin D3. This is a major public health concern, because inadequate vitamin D intake poses known risks to human health, particularly during growth. Paediatric scientific organisations recommend routine vitamin D supplementation for children to prevent rickets.

An endocrine activity by nature

Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D behaves like a hormone and as such, it acts on the endocrine system. If our intake is too high, the endocrine balance is disturbed, which then has harmful effects on health. ANSES points out that serious effects have already been observed in humans following vitamin D overdose.

Cholecalciferol was identified as an endocrine disruptor (ED) during its assessment by the European Chemicals Agency under the Biocides Regulation (EU) No 528/2012. However, ANSES stresses that the doses of cholecalciferol used in biocidal products to eradicate rodents are far higher than the doses of vitamin D provided by a normal diet, including foods fortified with vitamin D.

Information that could aggravate existing inadequate intakes

The French Act on waste reduction and the circular economy, known as the AGEC Act, requires consumers to be informed of the presence in products of any substance regarded as an ED. The Agency conducted an expert appraisal on the topic, which led it to believe that identifying cholecalciferol as an ED on food product labelling or other equivalent sources of information would contribute to an incorrect perception of the risk and could deter some people from consuming foods containing vitamin D.

Such labelling could therefore make it harder to meet adequate nutritional requirements for vitamin D. According to the INCA 3 study, the average dietary intake of vitamin D in the French adult population is 3.1 μg/day for adults aged 18-79 years, well below the adequate intake of 15 μg/day.

The Agency goes on to stress that just like vitamin D, other nutrients such as iodine can potentially have harmful effects by disrupting the endocrine system at high doses, whereas they are beneficial to human health at nutritional doses. It therefore also opposes including them in the list of ED substances to be mentioned on food products. 

 

Vitamin D requirements : seek advice from a healthcare professional

Healthcare professionals play a key role in explaining the benefits of a diet that meets vitamin D requirements. They can also warn of the risks associated with excessive intakes, such as those caused by misuse of food supplements, especially among young children.