A review into vitamin D supplementation guidelines is being called for after Australia’s largest ever study into vitamin D deficiency found it affects more Australians and lasts longer than previously believed.
The University of Sydney researchers found vitamin D deficiency was not at its worst in winter, as previously thought but in spring.
During a two year period, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (>50mM) ranged from 33% in summer to 58% in spring.
The researchers said current testing guidelines did not take seasonal variation into account. “Ideally testing should occur in spring when vitamin D levels reach their lowest concentration” said lead researcher Professor Stephen Boyages, an endocrinologist at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital. “If an individual is found to be deficient, a subsequent test three months afterwards would see if they have been able to replenish their vitamin D.”
“Similarly, use of vitamin D supplements currently fail to address this factor of seasonal variation”, he added.
Being a young female aged 20-39 years of age from a socio-economically disadvantaged background, and being an inpatient, was identified as a new risk factor for vitamin D deficiency.
Urban living was also newly identified s a strong risk factor for vitamin D deficiency, with linear increase in vitamin D levels found with distance from a major city.
The study looked at 24,000 samples from walk-in and inpatients in NSW.
Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in a number of diseases including cancer and diabetes.
Clinical endocrinology 2012; 77:515-523, published in Primary Care Nurse Magazine
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