Letters PHE and vitamin D supplementation

SACN is committed to openness and engagement

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5183 (Published 26 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i5183
  1. Ann Prentice, SACN chair
  1. MRC Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge CB1 9NL, UK
  1. vivien.lund{at}phe.gov.uk

Roberts questions the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s (SACN) advice on vitamin D.1

The process by which SACN considered evidence on vitamin D and health is set out clearly in its report.2 The committee considered that the 2011 Institute of Medicine report, and the systematic reviews considered within it, provided an important and comprehensive database and a useful reference resource for SACN’s consideration of evidence. SACN augmented the data in that report with evidence published since then.

SACN’s Framework for the Evaluation of Evidence describes a preferred hierarchy of evidence but says that (as with all study designs) randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews, and observational studies are only as good as the methods employed and that their value in informing recommendations depends on the study quality. SACN bases its public health recommendations on the best range and quality of evidence available.

SACN is committed to a policy of openness and engagement with interested parties. Every review, report, or position statement is discussed at an SACN meeting open to observation by the public or published for consultation, or both, before it is finalised. In the case of vitamin D, the draft report was published in July 2015 for a nine week public consultation, which elicited comments from 44 individuals and organisations. SACN considered carefully all of the additional references that had been brought to its attention, and, where relevant, it amended the draft report accordingly. The comments from the consultation, and SACN’s responses to them, are published on SACN’s website.


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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