A global representation of vitamin D status in healthy populations

D. A. Wahl, C. Cooper, P. R. Ebeling, M. Eggersdorfer, J. Hilger, K. Hoffmann, R. Josse, J. A. Kanis, A. Mithal, D. D. Pierroz, J. Stenmark, E. Stöcklin, B. Dawson-Hughes

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249 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper visualizes the available data on vitamin D status on a global map, examines the existing heterogeneities in vitamin D status and identifies research gaps. Methods: A graphical illustration of global vitamin D status was developed based on a systematic review of the worldwide literature published between 1990 and 2011. Studies were eligible if they included samples of randomly selected males and females from the general population and assessed circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels. Two different age categories were selected: children and adolescents (1-18 years) and adults (>18 years). Studies were chosen to represent a country based on a hierarchical set of criteria. Results: In total, 200 studies from 46 countries met the inclusion criteria, most coming from Europe. Forty-two of these studies (21 %) were classified as representative. In children, gaps in data were identified in large parts of Africa, Central and South America, Europe, and most of the Asia/Pacific region. In adults, there was lack of information in Central America, much of South America and Africa. Large regions were identified for which the mean 25(OH)D levels were below 50 nmol/L. Conclusions: This study provides an overview of 25(OH)D levels around the globe. It reveals large gaps in information in children and adolescents and smaller but important gaps in adults. In view of the importance of vitamin D to musculoskeletal growth, development, and preservation, and of its potential importance in other tissues, we strongly encourage new research to clearly define 25(OH)D status around the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-172
Number of pages18
JournalArchives of Osteoporosis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 25(OH)D
  • IOF
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Vitamin D status

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