Review

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011) 65, 1016–1026; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.68; published online 6 July 2011

An estimate of the global reduction in mortality rates through doubling vitamin D levels

W B Grant1

1Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center, San Francisco, CA, USA

Correspondence: Dr WB Grant, Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center, P.O. Box 641603, San Francisco, CA 94164-1603, USA. E-mail: wbgrant@infionline.net or www.sunarc.org

Received 14 March 2011; Revised 6 April 2011; Accepted 6 April 2011; Published online 6 July 2011.

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Abstract

Background/Objectives:

 

The goal of this work is to estimate the reduction in mortality rates for six geopolitical regions of the world under the assumption that serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels increase from 54 to 110nmol/l.

Subjects/Methods:

 

This study is based on interpretation of the journal literature relating to the effects of solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) and vitamin D in reducing the risk of disease and estimates of the serum 25(OH)D level–disease risk relations for cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and respiratory infections. The vitamin D-sensitive diseases that account for more than half of global mortality rates are CVD, cancer, respiratory infections, respiratory diseases, tuberculosis and diabetes mellitus. Additional vitamin D-sensitive diseases and conditions that account for 2 to 3% of global mortality rates are Alzheimer's disease, falls, meningitis, Parkinson's disease, maternal sepsis, maternal hypertension (pre-eclampsia) and multiple sclerosis. Increasing serum 25(OH)D levels from 54 to 110nmol/l would reduce the vitamin D-sensitive disease mortality rate by an estimated 20%.

Results:

 

The reduction in all-cause mortality rates range from 7.6% for African females to 17.3% for European females. Reductions for males average 0.6% lower than for females. The estimated increase in life expectancy is 2 years for all six regions.

Conclusions:

 

Increasing serum 25(OH)D levels is the most cost-effective way to reduce global mortality rates, as the cost of vitamin D is very low and there are few adverse effects from oral intake and/or frequent moderate UVB irradiance with sufficient body surface area exposed.

Keywords:

cancer; cardiovascular disease; diabetes mellitus; respiratory infections; ultraviolet-B; vitamin D

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