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

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 110 nmol/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 110 nmol/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.

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Correspondence to W B Grant.

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Competing interests

WB Grant receives or has received funding from the UV Foundation (McLean, VA, USA), the Sunlight Research Forum (Veldhoven, The Netherlands), Bio-Tech-Pharmacal (Fayetteville, AR, USA), the Vitamin D Council (San Luis Obispo, CA, USA) and the Danish Sunbed Federation (Middelfart, Denmark).

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Grant, W. An estimate of the global reduction in mortality rates through doubling vitamin D levels. Eur J Clin Nutr 65, 1016–1026 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2011.68

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Keywords

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

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