Global high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency and re-emergence of rickets and the growing scientific evidence linking low circulating 25-hydroxyvitmain D to increased risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disorders have stimulated recommendations to increase sunlight (UVB) exposure as a source of vitamin D.

However, concern over increased risk of melanoma with unprotected UVB exposure has led to the alternative recommendation that sufficient vitamin D should be supplied through dietary sources alone.

Here, we examine the adequacy of vitamin D intake worldwide and evaluate the ability of current fortification policies and supplement use practices among various countries to meet this recommendation.

It is evident from our review that vitamin D intake is often too low to sustain healthy circulating levels of 25-hydroxyvitmain D in countries without mandatory staple food fortification, such as with milk and margarine.

Even in countries that do fortify, vitamin D intakes are low in some groups due to their unique dietary patterns, such as low milk consumption, vegetarian diet, limited use of dietary supplements, or loss of traditional high fish intakes.

Our global review indicates that dietary supplement use may contribute 6-47% of the average vitamin D intake in some countries.

Recent studies demonstrate safety and efficacy of community-based vitamin D supplementation trials and food staple fortification introduced in countries without fortification policies. Reliance on the world food supply as an alternative to UVB exposure will necessitate greater availability of fortified food staples, dietary supplement use, and/or change in dietary patterns to consume more fish.