[비타민D 분석] Big difference in content and price of 6 vitamin D products for ‘dementia prevention’

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Image = Each product online official store

[소셜타임스=최희주 기자]

“Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of dementia”

A research team at the University of South Australia announced on the 14th that through genetic analysis data of 294,514 people, people with vitamin D deficiency had a smaller brain volume and had a higher risk of dementia and stroke. When the vitamin D level in the blood was half the normal level, the risk of dementia was increased by 54%, and when the vitamin D level was raised to the normal level, the risk of dementia decreased by 17%.

Vitamin D, called the gift of sunlight.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is naturally produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight. That’s why it’s called the Sunshine Vitamin or Light Vitamin.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, in order to synthesize vitamin D, you need to expose your face, hands, and feet to the sun for at least 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Sunlight is considered one of the most important disease suppressants.

However, modern people suffer from vitamin D deficiency because they do not get enough sunlight. This is because outdoor activities are gradually decreasing due to strong UV rays and air pollution, and exposure to the sun is reluctant due to the risk of skin aging and skin cancer if exposed to UV rays for a long time.

In particular, there may be a lack of vitamin D due to less exposure to the sun due to limited outdoor activities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is known that sunscreen blocks the synthesis of vitamin D. Sunscreen is also cited as the reason for the increase in the number of patients with vitamin D deficiency. However, there is controversy.

UV rays from the sun are divided into UVA, UVB, and UVC. Among them, vitamin D is produced only by UVB of the intermediate wavelength. According to the research results published in 2019 in the International Journal of Dermatology, the British Dermatological Society, the higher the UVA blocking effect of a sunscreen, the greater the UVB transmission power, which promotes the synthesis of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is produced when exposed to sunlight, but can also be obtained through food. However, because the amount is limited, it is sometimes supplemented with nutritional supplement products or injections.

Vitamin D products sold in Korea are very diverse. What are the ingredients and content of these products?

The ingredients of 6 capsules and tablet types were compared and analyzed.

The products analyzed were △ Chong Kun Dang Health Vitamin D 2,000 IU 500 mg △ Daewoong Pharm Vitalsome Vitamin D 4,000 IU 130 mg △ Solgar Vitamin D3 1,000 IU 300 mg △ Dr. Lin Organic Vitamin D 1,000 IU 300 mg △ Nutricore Organic Vitamin D 1,000 IU 300 mg △ Ponu Vitamin D 5,000IU, D3 450mg, etc.

When choosing a product, be sure to check the type, function, content, and allergen content of vitamin D.

On June 14 (local time), Science Daily reported an article investigating the correlation between vitamin D levels and dementia and stroke by a research team at the University of South Australia.  Source = Science Daily
On June 14 (local time), Science Daily reported an article investigating the correlation between vitamin D levels and dementia and stroke by a research team at the University of South Australia. Source = Science Daily

▲ 90% of the people are vitamin D deficient

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are important for bone health. When calcium and phosphorus do not accumulate in the bones, bone density decreases. It is the cause of osteoporosis. Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune cells and is an essential nutrient that promotes immune function.

According to the ‘2020 Nutrient Intake Standards for Koreans’ by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the daily recommended amount of vitamin D is 400 IU. 160 IU for 6-8 years old, 240 IU for 9-11 years old. However, some experts emphasize that the action of vitamin D affects all parts of the body beyond the bones, and argue that the daily recommended amount in Korea is very low.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Korean Nutrition Society’s ‘2015 Nutrient Intake Standards’ report also set a maximum of 10,000 IU per day as the maximum harmless dose.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Survey, 91.3% of men and 95.9% of women have vitamin D deficiency. 90% of Koreans are suffering from vitamin D deficiency. 79.9% of boys and 83.8% of the opposite sexes have vitamin D deficiency or deficiency. More than 95% of high school students were found to be deficient in vitamin D.

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According to a survey by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, vitamin D is a nutrient that Koreans lack in particular.

According to ‘Analysis of Nutritional Deficiency and Obesity Treatment Status for the Last 5 Years (2017-2021)’ published by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, in 2021, there were 247,077 patients with vitamin D deficiency, accounting for 73.7% of all malnutrition patients. This is an increase of about 190% compared to 2017. Among them, there were 3.5 times more women than men.

In Korea, 37.3% of women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. 68.5% of those over the age of 70 have osteoporosis. The prevalence increases with increasing age. According to statistics from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, in 2020 alone, 1,054,892 people visited medical institutions for osteoporosis, of which 93.7% were women and 6.3% were men. In particular, the number of fracture patients due to osteoporosis was highest not only in winter but also in June. This is because the soiree activities are on the rise.

The function of vitamin D

The three major functions of vitamin D are △required for absorption and use of calcium and phosphorus, △required for the formation and maintenance of bones, and △helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

All six products to be analyzed are health functional foods that have been certified as three major functionalities by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

Vitamin D not only helps bones and joints, but also helps in the production of immune cells. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3, calcitriol) plays a role in regulating the cell cycle, such as inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and promoting cell differentiation.

Vitamin D is produced when exposed to sunlight, but can also be obtained through food.

Source = Ministry of Health and Welfare
Source = Ministry of Health and Welfare

It is abundantly found in egg yolks, butter, milk, liver, fish, oil, dried mushrooms, and salmon. Vitamin D, which is fat-soluble, must be consumed with fat or oil to increase absorption. If possible, it is recommended to consume animal-based vitamin D. When consumed from animal sources, the body absorbs it in the form of vitamin D3. This is because the rate of activation of this form is higher. Vitamin D is sometimes added to milk, margarine, grains, and bread.

▲ Type of raw material and country of origin

There are six types of vitamin D with different side chain structures, from D2 to D7. Compounds with naturally occurring vitamin D activity are D2 and D3.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is produced naturally in the skin mainly by sunlight and is found in animal foods. For D2 (ergocalciferol), it is mainly obtained from plant foods and yeast. The absorption rate of vitamin D3 is higher than that of vitamin D2. Good activity, good body activity and absorption rate. The best sources of vitamin D3 are fish and dairy products. Vitamin D2 found in mushrooms and yeast is less effective than vitamin D3. Most vitamin D supplements on the market are D3 products.

According to a study by a research team at the University of Surrey, UK, vitamin D3 intake is twice as effective in body activation than vitamin D2 intake.

However, the Ministry of Health and Welfare explained that “vitamin D3 has been reported to be more effective than vitamin D2, but it is difficult to calculate vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 separately at this time” through the ‘2020 Nutrient Intake Standards for Koreans’.

There is controversy about the absorption rates of vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.

All six components analyzed were vitamin D3 products. The origin of vitamin D, the main ingredient, appeared to be Switzerland and the United States.

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Chong Kun Dang Health and Daewoong Pharmaceutical used a Swiss vitamin D3 mixture. For Solgar Vitamin D 1,000IU product, there is no ingredient information listed in the food history information. Solgar responded that it was extracted from wool (sheep hair) to a consumer’s question about the raw material.

In the case of Dr. Lin, many consumers inquired about the country of origin, but they responded that they could not confirm it, saying it was “a secret within the company.” As a result of checking the food history information of this product, the country of origin of dried yeast (vitamin D) as of May 30th is the United States. Sub-ingredients are identified as USA, Austria, and Korea.

Origin information of 'Dr. Lin Organic Vitamin D 1,000IU' displayed in the food history information system
Origin information of ‘Dr. Lin Organic Vitamin D 1,000IU’ displayed in the food history information system

These three products are labeled as vitamin D in the raw material information of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, but are promoted as vitamin D3 on the product detail page. Dr. Lin said that it was listed as vitamin D3 in the product detail information because it was marked as vitamin D in the food history information, and said that Ponyu contains plant-derived dried yeast D3.

Dr. Lin and Nutricor Ponu emphasize that organic ingredients are used.

Organic farming refers to an agricultural method that uses natural resources such as organic matter and microorganisms without using synthetic chemical materials such as chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs grants an organic processed food certification mark when more than 95% of organic livestock raw materials are used.

Dr.Lin and Nutricore products said that more than 95% of the total ingredients were organic. Nutricore said that it used raw materials that were certified organic by the US USDA, and that it received organic processed food certification in Korea.

▲ Vitamin D content varies

The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korean Nutrition Society have suggested that the daily recommended intake of vitamin D is 400 IU. It is 400 IU for adolescents and adults (12-64 years old), and 600 IU for seniors 65 years and older. However, several societies such as the Korean Society for Osteoporosis and the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Endocrinology recommend 800 to 1,000 IU more than this.

Source = Ministry of Health and Welfare
Source = Ministry of Health and Welfare

Recently, high-capacity products have appeared one after another.

Is it beneficial to consume more vitamin D than the recommended intake in Germany?

Experts say that even if you take a large amount of vitamin D at once, there are no side effects because it is stored in the liver and converted slowly to the required amount. According to the ‘Risk Assessment of Vitamin D’ in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there are no side effects at all unless you take 30,000 IU daily for a long time.

The vitamin D content of the six products for comparison was found to be 1,000 to 5,000 IU per serving.

The product that contains the most vitamin D is Ponu with 5,000 IU. Daewoong Pharmaceutical 4,000 IU, Chong Kun Dang Health 2,000 IU, and Solga Dr. Lin Nutricore 1,000 IU in that order.

The IU used as a unit for vitamin D is the international unit for nutritional supplements. It refers to the amount of vitamins, etc. that cannot be weighed because they are trace amounts. Converting IU to mass, 1 IU of vitamin D is 0.025 μg. ㎍ is the unit of microgram (mcg), 1,000 mcg is 1 mg.

In the nutritional information of vitamin D products, the amount is indicated in μg. However, product promotions can be confusing because IU is used as the unit for labeling the content. Converting units is easy to understand.

▲ Nutrient addition and safety

Depending on the product, nutrients other than vitamin D, the main ingredient, are added. In order to increase the functionality of the product to increase the efficacy

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Chong Kun Dang Health product contains 118% of the recommended daily amount of zinc. Zinc is a nutrient required for immune function and cell division and is present in all cells. It is present in about 90% of muscles and skeleton, and plays a basic physiologically active role.

Chong Kun Dang Health products contain 118% of the daily recommended amount of zinc, and Nutricore products contain 50% of the recommended daily intake of selenium.  Photo = Official store of each company
Chong Kun Dang Health products contain 118% of the daily recommended amount of zinc, and Nutricore products contain 50% of the recommended daily intake of selenium. Photo = Official store of each company

Nutricore contained selenium (selenium). Selenium is a nutrient needed to protect cells from free radicals. It is involved in the regulation of thyroid hormone metabolism, T-cell immune response, and inflammatory response.

Ingredient Comparative Analysis What will happen to the six products whether they contain food additives such as excipients?

In capsule form, Chong Kun Dang Health and Daewoong Pharmaceutical used coloring agents and emulsifiers. If you look at the raw material information of Solgar Vitamin D, an imported product, it contains chemical excipients such as silicon dioxide, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, and stearic acid.

On the other hand, Dr.Lin and Nutricor Ponu products did not contain excipients. At the same time, Nutricore and Dr.Lin products showed confidence in their raw materials by posting the phrase, “If there is a problem with raw materials, we take 100% responsibility.”

Among food additives, cellulose, silicon dioxide, and magnesium stearate are considered safe additives, whereas synthetic fragrances, synthetic colors, and synthetic artificial sweeteners are known to be harmful. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) has also been pointed out by the Japan Food Safety Commission as a cause of red blood cell reduction.

Nutricore and Dr.Lin products were disclosed as “100% liability for raw material problems”.  Photo = Each product online official store
Nutricore and Dr.Lin products were disclosed as “100% liability for raw material problems”. Photo = Each product online official store

▲ Characteristics of each product such as certification mark

When choosing a product, you should also look for allergens. Five of the six products contain 1 to 3 ingredients such as soybean, beef, pork, milk, and peach. confirmation is needed

Solgar revealed that it has been certified with the Kosher mark. The Kosher mark is the world’s oldest food certification mark and applies the principle of zero tolerance for contaminants according to the strict Jewish food standards. It is explained that the kosher mark was obtained because it covered the entire process from raw materials to the finished product and met these requirements.

Dr. Lin and Nutricore, which are organic vitamin D, have obtained the organic processed food certification mark from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Organic processed food certification is possible only when more than 95% of the total raw materials are organic.

Solgar uses eco-friendly paper for packaging, and emphasizes that Dr.Lin products use FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper and are printed with eco-friendly soybean oil ink. FSC certification is a system that attaches a label certifying that wood and wood products come from FSC forests.

Ponu said that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the product is being supported through a charitable organization.

The price of the product varies from 12,510 to 48,000 won for 2-3 months.

If the price of 6 products is converted to 1,000 IU per month’s supply, the difference is up to 15 times. The most expensive product was Nutricore at 24,000 won, and the cheapest product was Daewoong Pharmaceutical at 1,612 won. Chong Kun Dang Health 2,085 won, Solga 8,366 won, Dr. Lin 16,500 won, and Ponu 3,000 won.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is synthesized when exposed to sunlight. It is good to get sunlight through moderate outdoor activities to help the production of vitamin D, and to eat foods rich in vitamin D, such as egg yolks, butter, and milk.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare advised, “For women who are breastfeeding, a balanced diet and adequate sun exposure are necessary to ensure that breast milk contains sufficient vitamin D.”

According to the research results that vitamin D helps prevent dementia, there are voices calling for adding vitamin D test as a compulsory item to the national health checkup received every year. As the various roles of vitamin D have recently been revealed, it is a time that needs a lot of attention.

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