description of the OPTIFORD project
The purpose of the OPTIFORD project is to investigate whether
fortification of food with vitamin D is a feasible strategy
to remedy the insufficient vitamin D status of large population
groups in Europe, and to determine at what level fortification
should be pitched. An important outcome is to reinforce the
scientific base for recommendations on vitamin D as a nutrient.
Nutrient additions to the human food chain
include vitamin D incorporated in a wide variety of fatty
foods. Against this background, this project addresses the
EU Framework 5 QoL Work Program calling for the 'development
of foods with particular benefit in population groups such
as - children, women at various life stages and older persons'.
Vitamin D status will be determined and adjusted upwards by
supplemental intervention in
population of adolescent girls at the time of maximum growth;
a group of older individuals with vitamin D insufficiency;
survey will be carried out in five European countries of vitamin
D status in relation to seasonal variation in measured solar
exposure. The feasibility of addressing the vitamin D deficiencies
revealed is the subject of research in a work package concerned
with the development of vitamin D fortified bread.
The project is supported by the EU Commission under the EU
contract number QLK1-CT-2000-00623.
For more information see other pages or contact the project
leader, Ellen Trolle, or
co-coordinator, Heddie Meiborn,
Department of Nutrition, Danish Institute for Food and
The OPTIFORD project aims - taking a long term view - at improving
vitamin D status of the European population, and thus takes
up many facets of general health with particular reference
to bone integrity.
Vitamin D deficiency is known to be very common
in the elderly. It represents a major public health problem
as it is recognised to be an important risk factor for hip
fractures, which are associated with significant excess mortality,
disability and economic costs.
There is presently also disturbing evidence
of rickets reappearing in Europe, particularly in immigrant
It has, in addition, been pointed out that
the levels of parathyroid hormone seen in many Europeans,
particularly in the winter, are high enough to indicate a
degree of hyperparathyroidism, which could be associated,
particularly in the rapidly growing young, with an undesirable
departure from achievement of optimal bone mass.
Vitamin D fortification and/or supplementation
strategies are an effective and reasonably cheap way of arresting
preventable health consequences. But there are many unknowns
in relation to the strategy of vitamin D fortification of
food, particularly concerning the levels achieving optimal
effects without toxicity.