Vitamin D Council members: you are the 1%!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released their Second National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition, reporting the nutritional status of various nutrients in the United States population. The full 495 page report can be found here; information on vitamin D starts on page 172 of the booklet (which is page 183 of the .pdf):
They collected 16,604 25(OH)D samples between 2003-2006 from people of all age, gender and ethnicity. The national 25(OH)D mean was 55.6 nmol/l, which is about 22 ng/ml. The figure below is in nmol/l, not ng/ml. The conversion is [ng/ml] = [nmol/l] ÷ 2.5.
It also appears that people’s sunbathing evasion habits are beginning to level off. It is commonly reported that people have increasingly avoided the sun the last 30 to 40 years. According to this report, vitamin D status is still lower than what it was between1988-1994, but is similar to status between 2001-2002. I wonder how much of this can be contributed to the general population shifting from outdoor hard labor jobs to indoor desk jobs. Has this shift leveled off the past 10 years? Below is this data, with the bar graphs displaying mean 25(OH)D status in nmol/l, broken down into total population, gender and ethnicity.
Remember this data is in nmol/l, not ng/ml. This data also begs the question, what does data look like from 2007-2011? With the amount of interest in vitamin D from the public and in study in recent years, has this translated at all into better sun exposure habits? Are we making a dent in alleviating this public health problem?
This data shows, even by the IOM’s standards, that vitamin D nutritional status is indeed a public health problem. The IOM set the sufficiency bar at 20 ng/ml (50 nmol/l). According to this CDC report, a 20 ng/ml bar implicates that over 45% of Hispanics, over 65% blacks and about 20% whites are deficient in vitamin D. Does this qualify as a public health problem?
If we went by other standards, according to this report, greater than 95% of the population would be deficient in vitamin D; which admittedly, sounds ridiculous.These standards include:
- The Endocrine Society’s recommendation of 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/l)
- Robert Heaney’s recommendation of 48-60 ng/ml (120-150 nmol/l)
- Vitamin D Council’s recommendation of 40-80 ng/ml (100-200 nmol/l)
Why might you be a part of the 1%? Assuming you live by the above standards (you are reading the Vitamin D Council’s blog after all), you probably have a 25(OH)D level of 50 ng/ml. What percentage of the population has a level of 50 ng/ml or greater? According to this report, just 0.9%.