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More Than One-Third of World’s Population Vitamin D Insufficient

Sep. 10, 2013|473 views
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Vitamin D has emerged as one of the most important hormones in the body. We used to think it’s primary role was to regulate bone health by promoting the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the diet. But in the past few decades, evidence has mounted that vitamin D plays a crucial role in the regulation of the immune system, too. People with low vitamin D levels are more likely to succumb to pneumonia and other respiratory infections, for example. Low levels are also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and perhaps even cancer.


Studies have suggested that worldwide, significant numbers of people suffer from low levels of the so-called “sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D occurs in a number of forms, which complicates efforts to gather reliable information about levels in the general population. Now, researchers say they’ve reviewed data from numerous studies conducted around the world to assemble a comprehensive picture of vitamin D status. The results are discouraging: More than one-third of people have levels that are considered insufficient or deficient.


Vitamin D is generated when suitably strong sunlight strikes bare skin. It’s also added to dairy in the United States, and is available as a dietary supplement. Experts disagree, however, on adequate amounts of supplemental vitamin D3.  



Aregbesola A, Voutilainen S, Nurmi T, Virtanen JK, Ronkainen K, Tuomainen TP. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and the risk of pneumonia in an ageing general population. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2013 Jun;67(6):533-6. doi: 10.1136/jech-2012-202027. Epub 2013 Apr 17.


Pittas AG, Chung M, Trikalinos T, Mitri J, Brendel M, Patel K, et al. Systematic review: Vitamin D and cardiometabolic outcomes. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Mar 2;152(5):307-14. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-152-5-201003020-00009.


Pittas AG, Lau J, Hu FB, Dawson-Hughes B. The role of vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;92(6):2017-29. Epub 2007 Mar 27.


Wang L, Manson JE, Song Y, Sesso HD. Systematic review: Vitamin D and calcium supplementation in prevention of cardiovascular events. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Mar 2;152(5):315-23. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-152-5-201003020-00010.


Tags:  vitamin d, chronic illness