A new study has found that the number of people being diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency has tripled from 2008 to 2010 in the United States.
Some researchers believe that up to 75% of the United States population may not be getting enough vitamin D (levels below 30 ng/ml). With such a high percentage of people at risk for vitamin D deficiency, doctors are increasingly testing patients for vitamin D levels, to check if they are getting enough.
In the present study, researchers looked at data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to determine the changes in vitamin D deficiency diagnoses between 2007 and 2010. The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey started in 1973 and has annually surveyed primary care physicians to help provide the public with information on the use of ambulatory medical care services all throughout the United States. The survey collects data on patient symptoms, diagnoses by physicians, and what type of medications are being ordered among other things.
According to this data, vitamin D deficiency diagnoses tripled from 2008 to 2010. Before 2008, the number of vitamin D deficiency diagnoses was too low to be reported. In 2008, the number of visits related to vitamin D deficiency diagnoses was 383 per 100,000 visits. In 2010, this number increased to 1,177 per 100,000 visits.
Among the patients who visited for a vitamin D deficiency diagnoses, only 10% reported having weak bones or a fracture, a sign that most doctors are checking for vitamin D deficiency as a preventative measure.
“We emphasize the importance of providing consistent guidelines, testing procedures, and diagnostic criteria to healthcare providers so that they can make informed decisions when screening patients for vitamin D deficiency,” the researchers stated.
Huang, K. et al. Surge in US Outpatient Vitamin D Deficiency Diagnoses: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey Analysis. Southern Medical Journal, 2014.
The claim is based on statistical noise. Far too little data.
The abstract says
“Two hundred ninety-two unweighted patient visit records were included.”
Now if the data were based on 292 THOUSAND patient visits, then the conclusions would be of some interest.
Well I can’t report on 292,000 patient visits. But I can tell you about the close to 10,000 people I have ordered 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels on in the past 10 years who were not taking over 800 or 1000 units of vitamin D, mostly they were not taking any..
80% Caucasians less than 32 ng.
Almost 100% African-Americans – only one out of about 1,000 was over 32 ng. Ironically the same can be said of ethnically Indian Americans (from the country of India) and also Asian Americans. For each of these groups it was from 800 to 1200 subjects.
The Caucasians who were over 32 ng. were just barely over 32 ng – A few fishermen, a few gardeners, were 40, 50, or 60 ng. The all-time champion that I have ever seen was a woman who walked (In Southern NJ) every day of the year and had a level of 115 ng.
Robert Baker MD