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A systematic review of vitamin D status in populations worldwide

  • Jennifer Hilger (a1), Angelika Friedel (a2), Raphael Herr (a1), Tamara Rausch (a1), Franz Roos (a2), Denys A. Wahl (a3), Dominique D. Pierroz (a3), Peter Weber (a2) and Kristina Hoffmann (a1)...
Abstract

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with osteoporosis and is thought to increase the risk of cancer and CVD. Despite these numerous potential health effects, data on vitamin D status at the population level and within key subgroups are limited. The aims of the present study were to examine patterns of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels worldwide and to assess differences by age, sex and region. In a systematic literature review using the Medline and EMBASE databases, we identified 195 studies conducted in forty-four countries involving more than 168 000 participants. Mean population-level 25(OH)D values varied considerably across the studies (range 4·9–136·2 nmol/l), with 37·3 % of the studies reporting mean values below 50 nmol/l. The highest 25(OH)D values were observed in North America. Although age-related differences were observed in the Asia/Pacific and Middle East/Africa regions, they were not observed elsewhere and sex-related differences were not observed in any region. Substantial heterogeneity between the studies precluded drawing conclusions on overall vitamin D status at the population level. Exploratory analyses, however, suggested that newborns and institutionalised elderly from several regions worldwide appeared to be at a generally higher risk of exhibiting lower 25(OH)D values. Substantial details on worldwide patterns of vitamin D status at the population level and within key subgroups are needed to inform public health policy development to reduce risk for potential health consequences of an inadequate vitamin D status.

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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Dr K. Hoffmann, fax +49 621 383 9920, email kristina.hoffmann@medma.uni-heidelberg.de
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