Vitamin D deficiency: A global epidemic

 “We estimate that vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical condition in the world.”
– Dr. Michael F. Holick, vitamin D expert

Vitamin D deficiency is a world-wide epidemic, 123 with recent estimates indicating greater than 50% of the global population is at risk. 4

A high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency has been found across all age groups in all populations studied in countries around the globe. 5678910111213141516171819

Even those who are otherwise healthy are not immune to deficiency. 10202122

In addition, the scope of vitamin D deficiency is actually far greater than the numbers indicate. Published estimates and studies grossly underestimate the extent of the problem as a result of using an outdated 25(OH)D threshold (cut off point) of 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) for determining deficiency.

Recent evidence reveals beneficial effects of vitamin D at serum levels around 50 ng/mL (125 nmol/L) 232425 or higher – effects not seen at levels below 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L), indicating a need for upward revision of the deficiency reference threshold.

Page last edited: 09 July 2012

References

  1. Prentice, A. Vitamin D deficiency: a global perspective. Nutr Rev. 2008 Oct; 66 (10 Suppl 2): S153-64.
  2. Pettifor, J. M. Vitamin D &/or calcium deficiency rickets in infants & children: a global perspective. Indian J Med Res. 2008 Mar; 127 (3): 245-9.
  3. Holick, M. F. Chen, T. C. Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr; 87 (4): 1080S-6S.
  4. University of California Riverside More Than Half the World’s Population Gets Insufficient Amounts of Vitamin D, Says UC Riverside Biochemist. 15 July 2010;
  5. Science Daily Millions Of U.S. Children Low In Vitamin D. 3 Aug 2009;
  6. Schwalfenberg, G. K. Genuis, S. J. Hiltz, M. N. Addressing vitamin D deficiency in Canada: a public health innovation whose time has come. Public Health. 2010 Jun; 124 (6): 350-9.
  7. Kuriacose, R. Olive, K. E. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in northeast Tennessee. South Med J. 2008 Sep; 101 (9): 906-9.
  8. Bandeira, F. Griz, L. Dreyer, P. Eufrazino, C. Bandeira, C. Freese, E. Vitamin D deficiency: A global perspective. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2006 Aug; 50 (4): 640-6.
  9. Ardestani, P. M. Salek, M. Keshteli, A. H. Nejadnik, H. Amini, M. Hosseini, S. M. Rafati, H. Kelishadi, R. Hashemipour, M. Vitamin D status of 6- to 7-year-old children living in Isfahan, Iran. Endokrynol Pol. 2010 Jul-Aug; 61 (4): 377-82.
  10. Bener, A. Al-Ali, M. Hoffmann, G. F. Vitamin D deficiency in healthy children in a sunny country: associated factors. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009; 60 Suppl 560-70.
  11. Teale, G. R. Cunningham, C. E. Vitamin D deficiency is common among pregnant women in rural Victoria. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2010 Jun; 50 (3): 259-61.
  12. Harinarayan, C. V. Joshi, S. R. Vitamin D status in India–its implications and remedial measures. J Assoc Physicians India. 2009 Jan; 5740-8.
  13. Andersen, R. Molgaard, C. Skovgaard, L. T. Brot, C. Cashman, K. D. Chabros, E. Charzewska, J. Flynn, A. Jakobsen, J. Karkkainen, M. Kiely, M. Lamberg-Allardt, C. Moreiras, O. Natri, A. M. O’Brien, M. Rogalska-Niedzwiedz, M. Ovesen, L. Teenage girls and elderly women living in northern Europe have low winter vitamin D status. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr; 59 (4): 533-41.
  14. Rodriguez Sangrador, M. Beltran de Miguel, B. Quintanilla Murillas, L. Cuadrado Vives, C. Moreiras Tuny, O. [The contribution of diet and sun exposure to the nutritional status of vitamin D in elderly Spanish women: the five countries study (OPTIFORD Project)]. Nutr Hosp. 2008 Nov-Dec; 23 (6): 567-76.
  15. Bhattoa, H. P. Bettembuk, P. Ganacharya, S. Balogh, A. Prevalence and seasonal variation of hypovitaminosis D and its relationship to bone metabolism in community dwelling postmenopausal Hungarian women. Osteoporos Int. 2004 Jun; 15 (6): 447-51.
  16. Allali, F. El Aichaoui, S. Khazani, H. Benyahia, B. Saoud, B. El Kabbaj, S. Bahiri, R. Abouqal, R. Hajjaj-Hassouni, N. High prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in Morocco: relationship to lifestyle, physical performance, bone markers, and bone mineral density. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Jun; 38 (6): 444-51.
  17. Du, X. Greenfield, H. Fraser, D. R. Ge, K. Trube, A. Wang, Y. Vitamin D deficiency and associated factors in adolescent girls in Beijing. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Oct; 74 (4): 494-500.
  18. Peters, B. S. dos Santos, L. C. Fisberg, M. Wood, R. J. Martini, L. A. Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in Brazilian adolescents. Ann Nutr Metab. 2009; 54 (1): 15-21.
  19. Judkins, A. Eagleton, C. Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant New Zealand women. N Z Med J. 2006; 119 (1241): U2144.
  20. Mansoor, S. Habib, A. Ghani, F. Fatmi, Z. Badruddin, S. Siddiqui, I. Jabbar, A. Prevalence and significance of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among apparently healthy adults. Clin Biochem. 2010 Sep 27;
  21. Gordon, C. M. DePeter, K. C. Feldman, H. A. Grace, E. Emans, S. J. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among healthy adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004 Jun; 158 (6): 531-7.
  22. Gordon, C. M. Feldman, H. A. Sinclair, L. Williams, A. L. Kleinman, P. K. Perez-Rossello, J. Cox, J. E. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among healthy infants and toddlers. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Jun; 162 (6): 505-12.
  23. Davis, W. Rockway, S. Kwasny, M. Effect of a combined therapeutic approach of intensive lipid management, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, and increased serum 25 (OH) vitamin D on coronary calcium scores in asymptomatic adults. Am J Ther. 2009 Jul-Aug; 16 (4): 326-32.
  24. Seki, T. Yamamoto, M. Ohwada, R. Takano, K. Kure, M. Sekine, H. Katsura, Y. Sato, K. Successful treatment of postsurgical hypoparathyroidism by intramuscular injection of vitamin D3 in a patient associated with malabsorption syndrome due to multiple abdominal surgeries. J Bone Miner Metab. 2010 Mar; 28 (2): 227-32.
  25. Garland, C. F. Gorham, E. D. Mohr, S. B. Garland, F. C. Vitamin D for cancer prevention: global perspective. Ann Epidemiol. 2009 Jul; 19 (7): 468-83.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and information presented on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.