Anses advises against including vitamin D3 in the list of endocrine disruptors to be mentioned on food product label

Nov 04, 2022
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Sébastien Bouley

Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is essential for the proper functioning of our body and plays a decisive role in the quality of bone tissue. It is provided by food (dairy products, fish, eggs) and is produced by skin exposed to the sun. However, more than 1 in 3 French people fail to meet their physiological vitamin D3 needs, which is a major public health concern. Indeed, a vitamin D3 deficiency exposes people to known risks for human health, in particular during periods of growth. Scientific societies recommend routine vitamin D supplementation for children to prevent rickets and for the elderly to avoid osteoporosis.


Vitamin D behaves like a hormone and acts on the endocrine system. If the intake is too high, the endocrine balance can be disturbed and cause adverse health effects. anses also recalls that serious effects have already been observed in humans during vitamin D overdoses. Cholecalciferol was identified as an endocrine disruptor (ED) during its assessment by the european chemical agency (ECHA) within the framework of the EU biocides regulation n°528/2012.

There are currently several definitions of EDs:

  • According to WHO (2002), « an ED is an exogenous substance or mixture that alters the functions of the endocrine system and thereby induces adverse effects in an intact organism, its offspring or within (sub)-populations. »
  • For the French Ministry of Health and Prevention, « an ED is a chemical substance of natural or synthetic origin, foreign to the body and likely to interfere with the functioning of the system. endocrine, i.e. cells and organs involved in the production of hormones and their action on so-called “target” cells via receptors. EDs disrupt the hormonal functioning of living organisms, and thus have harmful effects on the environment and on human health. »

Anses emphasizes in its scientific opinion that the concept of a substance “foreign to the body” goes beyond the “exogenous” character because it includes all xenobiotics, thus excluding from this definition of EDs exogenous substances having a physiological role such as nutrients. In addition, the doses of cholecalciferol used in biocidal products to eliminate rodents are much higher than the doses of vitamin D provided by the current diet, including foods fortified with vitamin D. Following its expert appraisal, the French agency considers that the identification of cholecalciferol as an ED on the labels of food products would contribute to giving a fake perception of the risk and could divert some people from the consumption of foods containing vitamin D. This display could therefore accentuate insufficient coverage of nutritional requirements for vitamin D. According to the Inca 3 study, the average dietary intake of vitamin D in the adult French population is 3.1 μg/day in adults aged 18-79, well below the satisfactory intake established at 15 μg/day.

The French agency points out that other nutrients, such as iodine, are likely to have deleterious effects by disrupting the endocrine system at high doses, whereas they are beneficial to human health at nutritional doses. It is therefore also unfavorable to including them in the list of ED substances that must be displayed for food products.

For more information, you can consult ANSES’s scientific support note on the application to cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) of the provisions relating to substances with endocrine disrupting properties (in french).

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