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Vitamin D

September 2007

High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health.

During the past decade, major advances have been made in vitamin D research that transcend the simple concept that vitamin D is Important for the prevention of rickets in children and has little physiologic relevance for adults. Inadequate vitamin D, in addition to causing rickets, prevents children from attaining their genetically programmed peak bone mass, contributes to and exacerbates osteoporosis in adults, and causes the often painful bone disease osteomalacia. Adequate vitamin D is also important for proper muscle functioning, and controversial evidence suggests it may help prevent type 1 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and many common cancers. Vitamin D inadequacy has been reported in approximately 36% of otherwise healthy young adults and up to 57% of general medicine inpatients in the United States and in even higher percentages in Europe. Recent epidemiological data document the high prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy among elderly patients and especially among patients with osteoporosis. Factors such as low sunlight exposure, age-related decreases in cutaneous synthesis, and diets low in vitamin D contribute to the high prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy. Vitamin D production from cutaneous synthesis or intake from the few vitamin D-rich or enriched foods typically occurs only intermittently. Supplemental doses of vitamin D and sensible sun exposure could prevent deficiency in most of the general population. The purposes of this article are to examine the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and to review the potential implications for skeletal and extraskeletal health.

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Mar;81(3):353-73

The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D among US adults: data from the NHANES III.

OBJECTIVE: Several epidemiologic and mechanistic studies suggest that 25(OH) D3 levels should be maintained above 70 nmol/L for a positive effect on the health of adults. Prior studies have noted low 25(OH) D3 levels in subsets of minority populations. The objective of this study is to examine the prevalence of adequate 25(OH) D3 levels among US adults. METHOD: Using data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), we evaluated serum levels of 25(OH) D3 (nmol/L) among 15,390 adult participants > or = 18 years of age. Racial/ethnic grouping was by self-identification as White, Black or African American, and Hispanic. RESULTS: The mean levels of 25(OH) D3 were lower among the female than male participants (71.1 vs 78.7; P=.003) and among the elderly (> or = 65 years of age vs 40-59 and 18-39) than young participants. White men and women (83.0 and 76.0) had higher mean levels of vitamin D than Hispanic men and women (68.3 and 56.7; P<.0001) and than Black men and women (52.2 and 45.3; P<.0001), respectively. The prevalence of both mild-moderate and severe deficiency of vitamin D is higher among women (P<.0001) and minority populations (P<.0001). However, even among White men, 34% had low vitamin D levels. CONCLUSION: Serum levels of 25(OH) D3 are below the recommended levels for a large portion of the general adult population and in most minorities. Need exists for a critical review and probable revision of current recommendations for adult vitamin D intake to maintain adequate 25(OH) D3 levels.

Ethn Dis. 2005 Autumn;15(4 Suppl 5):S5-97-101

Vitamin D deficiency and seasonal variation in an adult South Florida population.

Hypovitaminosis D is associated with impaired neuromuscular function, bone loss, and fractures. If a person is not taking a vitamin supplement, sun exposure is often the greatest source of vitamin D. Thus, vitamin D deficiency is not uncommon in the winter, particularly in northern latitudes. Our goal was to establish the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in south Florida (US), a region of year-round sunny weather. At the end of the winter, 212 men and women attending an internal medicine clinic at a local county hospital were enrolled for measurements of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, and PTH; 99 participants returned at the end of summer. The mean (+/-sd) winter 25(OH)D concentration was 24.9 +/- 8.7 ng/ml (62.3 +/- 21.8 nmol/liter) in men and 22.4 +/- 8.2 ng/ml (56.0 +/- 20.5 nmol/liter) in women. In winter, the prevalence of hypovitaminosis D, defined as 25(OH)D less than 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/liter), was 38% and 40% in men and women, respectively. In the 99 subjects who returned for the end of summer visit, the mean 25(OH)D concentration was 31.0 +/- 11.0 ng/ml (77.5 +/- 27.5 nmol/liter) in men and 25.0 +/- 9.4 ng/ml (62.5 +/- 23.5 nmol/liter) in women. Seasonal variation represented a 14% summer increase in 25(OH)D concentrations in men and a 13% increase in women, both of which were statistically significant. The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D is considerable even in southern latitudes and should be taken into account in the evaluation of postmenopausal and male osteoporosis.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Mar;90(3):1557-62

Vitamin D and disease prevention with special reference to cardiovascular disease.

Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] is the hallmark for determining vitamin D status. Serum parathyroid hormone [PTH] increases progressively when 25(OH)D falls below 75 nmol/l. Concentrations of 25(OH)D below 50 nmol/l or even below 25 nmol/l are frequently observed in various population groups throughout the world. This paper highlights the relationship of vitamin D insufficiency with cardiovascular disease and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, two diseases that account for up to 50% of all deaths in western countries. There is evidence from patients with end-stage renal disease that high PTH concentrations are causally related to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Activated vitamin D is able to increase survival in this patient group significantly. Moreover, already slightly enhanced PTH concentrations are associated with ventricular hypertrophy and coronary heart disease in the general population. Experimental studies have demonstrated that a lack of vitamin D action leads to hypertension in mice. Some intervention trials have also shown that vitamin D can reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients. In young and elderly adults, serum 25(OH)D is inversely correlated with blood glucose concentrations and insulin resistance. Sun-deprived lifestyle, resulting in low cutaneous vitamin D synthesis, is the major factor for an insufficient vitamin D status. Unfortunately, vitamin D content of most foods is negligible. Moreover, fortified foods and over-the-counter supplements usually contain inadequate amounts of vitamin D to increase serum 25(OH)D to 75 nmol/l. As a consequence, legislation has to be changed to allow higher amounts of vitamin D in fortified foods and supplements.

Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):39-48

Prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and the serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the United States: data from the third national health and nutrition examination survey.

BACKGROUND: Results of several epidemiologic and clinical studies have suggested that there is an excess risk of hypertension and diabetes mellitus in persons with suboptimal intake of vitamin D. METHODS: We examined the association between serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) and select cardiovascular disease risk factors in US adults. A secondary analysis was performed with data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a national probability survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics between January 1, 1988, and December 31, 1994, with oversampling of persons 60 years and older, non-Hispanic black individuals, and Mexican American individuals. RESULTS: There were 7,186 male and 7902 female adults 20 years and older with available data in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The mean 25(OH)D level in the overall sample was 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L). The 25(OH)D levels were lower in women, elderly persons (>/=60 years), racial/ethnic minorities, and participants with obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. The adjusted prevalence of hypertension (odds ratio [OR], 1.30), diabetes mellitus (OR, 1.98), obesity (OR, 2.29), and high serum triglyceride levels (OR, 1.47) was significantly higher in the first than in the fourth quartile of serum 25(OH)D levels (P<.001 for all). CONCLUSIONS: Serum 25(OH)D levels are associated with important cardiovascular disease risk factors in US adults. Prospective studies to assess a direct benefit of cholecalciferol (vitamin D) supplementation on cardiovascular disease risk factors are warranted.

Arch Intern Med. 2007 Jun 11;167(11):1159-65

Mineral metabolism and arterial functions in end-stage renal disease: potential role of 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency.

In ESRD, arterial function is abnormal, characterized by decreased capacitive function (arterial stiffening) and reduced conduit function, shown by diminished flow-mediated dilation (FMD). The pathophysiology of these abnormalities is not clear, and this cross-sectional study analyzed possible relationships among arterial alterations and cardiovascular risk factors, including mineral metabolism parameters, such as serum parathormone, and vitamin D “nutritional” and “hormonal” status by measuring serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D(3)] and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1,25(OH)(2)D(3)] levels. Aortic stiffness (pulse wave velocity), brachial artery (BA) distensibility (echotracking; n = 42), BA FMD (hand-warming; n = 37), and arterial calcification scores (echography and plain x-rays) were measured in 52 stable and uncomplicated patients who were on hemodialysis. 25(OH)D(3) and 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) serum levels were low and weakly correlated (r = 0.365, P < 0.05). After adjustment for BP and age, multivariate analyses indicated that 25(OH)D(3) and 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) were negatively correlated with aortic pulse wave velocity (P < 0.001) and positively correlated with BA distensibility (P < 0.01) and FMD (P < 0.001). Arterial calcification scores were not independently associated with 25(OH)D(3) and 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) serum concentrations. These results suggest that nutritional vitamin D deficiency and low 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) could be associated with arteriosclerosis and endothelial dysfunction in patients who have ESRD and are on hemodialysis.

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2007 Feb;18(2):613-20

Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial.

BACKGROUND: Numerous observational studies have found supplemental calcium and vitamin D to be associated with reduced risk of common cancers. However, interventional studies to test this effect are lacking. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this analysis was to determine the efficacy of calcium alone and calcium plus vitamin D in reducing incident cancer risk of all types. DESIGN: This was a 4-y, population-based, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. The primary outcome was fracture incidence, and the principal secondary outcome was cancer incidence. The subjects were 1,179 community-dwelling women randomly selected from the population of healthy postmenopausal women aged >55 y in a 9-county rural area of Nebraska centered at latitude 41.4 degrees N. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive 1400-1500 mg supplemental calcium/d alone (Ca-only), supplemental calcium plus 1100 IU vitamin D(3)/d (Ca + D), or placebo. RESULTS: When analyzed by intention to treat, cancer incidence was lower in the Ca + D women than in the placebo control subjects (P < 0.03). With the use of logistic regression, the unadjusted relative risks (RR) of incident cancer in the Ca + D and Ca-only groups were 0.402 (P = 0.01) and 0.532 (P = 0.06), respectively. When analysis was confined to cancers diagnosed after the first 12 mo, RR for the Ca + D group fell to 0.232 (CI: 0.09, 0.60; P < 0.005) but did not change significantly for the Ca-only group. In multiple logistic regression models, both treatment and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations were significant, independent predictors of cancer risk. CONCLUSIONS: Improving calcium and vitamin D nutritional status substantially reduces all-cancer risk in postmenopausal women.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91

The role of vitamin D for bone health and fracture prevention.

Vitamin D inadequacy is pandemic in adults. Vitamin D deficiency causes osteopenia, precipitates and exacerbates osteoporosis, causes the painful bone disease osteomalacia, and increases muscle weakness, which worsens the risk of falls and fractures. Vitamin D deficiency can be prevented by sensible sun exposure and adequate supplementation. Monitoring serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the only way to determine vitamin D status. Recent recommendations suggest that in the absence of sun exposure, adults should ingest 1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. The ideal healthy blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D should be 30 to 60 ng/mL. Vitamin D intoxication occurs when 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are greater than 150 ng/mL. Three recent reports suggesting that vitamin D and calcium supplementation does not decrease the risk of fracture will be put into perspective in light of the vast literature supporting increasing vitamin D and calcium intake as an effective method for decreasing risk of vertebral and nonvertebral fractures.Curr Osteoporos Rep.

2006 Sep;4(3):96-102

Association between serum 25(OH)D concentrations and bone stress fractures in Finnish young men.

Low vitamin D level may predict rickets, osteomalacia, or osteoporosis. We examined serum 25(OH)D concentration as a predisposing factor for bone stress fracture in 756 military recruits. The average serum 25(OH)D concentration was significantly lower in the group with fracture, suggesting a relationship between vitamin D and fatigue bone stress fracture. INTRODUCTION: Low vitamin D level may predict rickets, osteomalacia, or osteoporosis. Fatigue bone stress fracture is one of the most frequently seen types of overuse injuries in athletes and military recruits. An association was recently shown between vitamin D and BMC. A correlation has also been found between low femoral BMD and stress fractures. We measured serum 25(OH)D concentration in a population sample of military recruits to determine if vitamin D is a predisposing factor for fatigue bone stress fracture. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We prospectively followed 800 randomly selected, healthy Finnish military recruits with a mean age of 19 years for developing stress fractures in homogenous circumstances. Blood for serum 25(OH)D concentration was drawn at entry into military service, and the weight, height, body mass index (BMI), muscle strength, and 12-minute running were measured for all subjects. Serum 25(OH)D concentrations were measured with enzyme immunoassay. At end of the 90-day follow-up, 756 subjects completed the study. Subjects without fracture constituted controls. RESULTS: Twenty-two recruits with stress fracture were identified (2.9%), the incidence being 11.6 (95% CI: 6.8-16.5) per 100 person-years. In the final multivariate analysis, the significant risk factor for stress fracture in conscripts was a below median serum 25(OH)D level (75.8 nM), OR being 3.6 (95% CI: 1.2-11.1). No significant associations between BMI (p = 0.255), age (p = 0.216), or smoking (p = 0.851) and bone stress fracture were found in this study population. CONCLUSIONS: A lower level of serum 25(OH)D concentration may be a generally predisposing element for bone stress fractures. Considering the obvious need of additional vitamin D in prevention of stress fractures, the effects of vitamin D fortification of foods and supplementation will be subjects of interest for future research.

J Bone Miner Res. 2006 Sep;21(9):1483-8