Bridging the
Vitamin D Gap
Why we’re not getting enough
Bad break
Around the world,
1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men
over the age of 50
will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. 1
In women, the incidence of fractures is higher than the total incidence of cancer, heart infarction, stroke or diabetes.
A high price to pay
Across the European Union, an estimated €26.4 billion is spent every year 2 treating osteoporosis-attributed bone fractures.
In the USA, the annual cost of treating fractures related to osteoporosis is $17 billion. 3
hard to get
is we know that vitamin D improves bone mineral density.
is that it can be hard to get enough vitamin D from natural sources alone.
We get most of our vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But this is in short supply in cooler, cloudy climates.
Even in hot countries, people are rightly advised to cover up or wear sun-screen to protect the skin, reducing their ability to absorb vitamin D from the sun.
Deficient, insufficient, adequate
The accepted test for establishing an individual’s vitamin D status is 25(OH)D, which measures levels of vitamin D in the blood. 4
Is adequate
A review of 25(OH)D status in populations worldwide found that 6.7% of people have a vitamin D status that is deficient, while 37.3% have a status that is insufficient. 5
56% of people worldwide have a vitamin D status that is adequate.
However, evidence is emerging to suggest that a higher, optimal status delivers incremental benefits
Hip hip
In a large study involving more than 13,000 participants, increases in hip bone density were recorded in subjects with a 25(OH)D status that was above the range considered adequate. 6
The findings were recorded in both younger (20-49) and older (50+) adults of different ethnicities.
Many scientists now agree that a vitamin D status of above 75 nmol/litre (30 ng/ml) is optimal
Optimal vitamin D status is also associated with improved muscle strength, a healthy immune system and normal blood pressure levels.
As well as bone fractures, it may offer benefits in relation to reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Meanwhile, a review by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of mortality by all causes. 7
Mind the gap
In spite of this evidence, only 11.9% of people globally have an optimal 25(OH)D status above 75 nmol/litre.
This means 88.1% of the global population have a vitamin D status that is sub-optimal – or worse.
Some experts believe the case for bridging the gap between adequate and optimal vitamin D status is now too strong to ignore.
In 2003 Finland’s government implemented its first mandatory fortification of liquid milk products and fat spreads with vitamin D. In 2010, the government also recommended children, adolescents and the elderly to take vitamin D supplements.
Research suggests this intervention has been successful, with 25(OH)D status rising across the Finnish population.