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ODS Vitamin D Initiative

Vitamin D and Health conference logo

Table of Contents


The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) leads and sponsors several efforts to advance scientific understanding of the importance of vitamin D to health. These efforts have included:

  • measurement of vitamin D levels in foods;
  • assessment of vitamin D status of the U.S. population;
  • development of a reference measurement procedure and standard reference materials to precisely measure this nutrient;
  • systematic review of scientific literature used in updating the vitamin D recommended dietary allowances and safe levels of intake; and
  • an international effort to standardize measurement of serum vitamin D levels in populations around the world (see Vitamin D Standardization Program)

ODS also sponsors conferences and workshops on vitamin D and leads a federal working group on this nutrient to identify and help meet research needs.

ODS Vitamin D Fact Sheets

ODS has vitamin D fact sheets in two versions—Health Professional and QuickFacts. The QuickFacts version is available in both English and Spanish.

Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP)

As part of its Vitamin D Initiative, NIH Office of Dietary Supplements established the Vitamin D Standardization Program (VDSP) in November 2010. ODS is leading a collaborative effort with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to standardize the laboratory measurement of vitamin D status in national health surveys worldwide. This collaboration includes the creation in the CDC of the Vitamin D Standardization Coordinating Center. Standardization is essential to improve the detection, evaluation, and treatment of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency by making measurements of serum total 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] accurate and comparable over time, location, and laboratory procedure.

Since the inception of this program, ODS has enlisted the participation of national health surveys from Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Two international planning meetings took place in 2011. Completion of the first round of vitamin D standardization for all eight national surveys and the participating assay manufacturers will take place in 2012 . An international meeting to present those initial results is tentatively planned for the first quarter of 2013.

Objectives of the VDSP over the next 2 to 3 years are to:

  • Standardize the measurement of serum total 25(OH)D in national health surveys by linking them to the NIST reference measurement procedure;
  • Study similarities and differences in total 25(OH)D among national health surveys;
  • Expand standardization services from national surveys to include assay manufacturers and clinical and research laboratories; and,
  • Enable the use of standardized data in public health activities and patient care.

Vitamin D Resources for Researchers

We've collected useful vitamin D resources from our office and other federal government offices to provide to researchers, including our Vitamin D Health Professional Fact Sheet, NIH conference proceedings, Standard Reference Material®, evidence-based reviews, and other publications.

Conference Proceedings

Standard Reference Material®

Evidence-based Reviews

  • Vitamin D and Calcium: Systematic Review of Health Outcomes
    August 2009
    Chung M, Balk E, Brendel M, Ip S, Lau J, Lee J, Lichtenstein A, Patel K, Raman G, Tatsioni A, Terasawa T, Trikalinos T. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 183. (Prepared by: Tufts Evidence-based Practice Center, Boston, MA under Contract No. 290-2007-10055-I) AHRQ Publication No. 07-E015, Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

  • Effectiveness and Safety of Vitamin D in Relation to Bone Health
    August 2007
    Cranney A, Horsely T, O'Donnell S, Weiler H, Puil L, Ooi D, Atkinson S, Ward L, Moher D, Hanley D, Fang M, Yazdi F, Garrity C, Sampson M, Barrowman N, Tsertsvadze A, Mamaladze V. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 158. (Prepared by Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center, Ottawa, Canada under Contract No. 290-02-0021). AHRQ Publication No. 07-E013, Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Other Publications

Other Federal Government Resources on Vitamin D