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Vitamin D Deficiency Prevalence in Australia

Vitamin D is necessary for optimal health.  However, nearly one-third of Australian adults over the age of 25 have Vitamin D deficiency which raises a serious public health concern.

Vitamin D deficiency is recognized as a global public health problem, but the population-based prevalence of deficiency and its determinants in Australian adults has not previously been properly examined.

A recent study evaluated the vitamin D status of Australian adults aged ≥25 years and risk factors associated with vitamin D deficiency in this population group. A national sample of 11247 Australian adults enrolled in the AusDiab was drawn from 42 randomly selected districts throughout Australia from Darwin to Hobart.  Serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were measured by immunoassay. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as a concentration <50 nmol/L.

The overall prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (<50 nmol/L) was 31% with women being more commonly affected (39% in women vs 23% in men).

When evaluated by season and latitude, deficiency was more common during winter and in people residing in southern Australia (latitude >35°S); 42% of women and 27% of men in southern Australia during summer/autumn had deficient levels, which increased to 58% and 35% in women and men, respectively, during winter/spring.

The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency also increased significantly with age, in women, in those of non-European origin, in the obese and those who were physically inactive and with a higher level of education.

Low levels of vitamin D has been found to be associated with a number of medical conditions such as softened bones; diseases that cause progressive muscle weakness leading to an increased risk of falls, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Results from this latest study confirmed that vitamin D deficiency is common in Australia affecting nearly one-third of adults aged 25 years and older.  The study authors further commented that national strategies are urgently needed to develop an awareness campaign for balancing safe sun exposure and adequate vitamin D intake, and to tackle the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Australia before the problem worsens.

Source:
Daly RM et al. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012 Jul; 77(1):26-35.

 

 

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