Higher vitamin D levels could save thousands of lives a year: economic analysis
Life Extension Foundation http://www.lef.org/news/LefDailyNews.htm?NewsID=9534&Section=VITAMINS&source=DHB_100408
Canadian Press 04-07-10
TORONTO - A new study estimates that if more Canadians increased their intake of vitamin D, the death rate could fall by 16 per cent, or as many as 37,000 premature deaths a year.
The number crunchers factored in the association between vitamin D deficiency and a variety of diseases and conditions, including bone diseases, cancer, autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
The research was published recently in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
"The result of this study strongly suggests the personal and economic burden of disease in Canada could be significantly reduced if optimal vitamin D levels are increased," primary author William Grant, of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, said in a release Tuesday.
The study notes that Canadians have mean serum levels for vitamin D averaging 67 nanomoles per litre, and says the estimated benefits in disease reduction were based on increasing the level to 105 nanomoles per litre.
Many experts describe 75 nmols per litre as the minimum for good health, co-author Susan Whiting of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan said in an interview.
Statistics Canada reported last month that 65 per cent of Canadians who had their blood tested for vitamin D levels, in 15 communities across the country, failed to meet the threshold of 75 nmols per litre.
A primary source for producing vitamin D naturally is the sun, but Whiting notes that Canadians spend a lot of time indoors, and that it's been difficult to come up with a "rational sun exposure measure" given the concerns about skin cancer. Vitamin D can also be obtained through eating certain foods and supplementation.
As for economic impact, the study said that boosting vitamin D blood levels would reduce the burden on the health-care system by about $14.4 billion. However, there would be costs associated with ensuring the population had higher vitamin D levels if this is achieved by fortifying more foods.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine is currently working on setting new dietary reference intakes for vitamin D, and Canadian officials are involved in the process. A report is expected to be published in late summer or the fall.
Whiting said it will be important to "do something quickly after that" to raise the recommended levels of vitamin D intake for Canadians.
Instead of preventing 37,000 premature deaths in Canada, the real number is hundreds of thousands.
Instead of promoting 105 nmol/L (42 ng/mL) they should be promoting 125 nmol/L ( 50 ng/mL)
Stating that 65% failed to meet the threshhold of 75 nmol/L implies that 35% are "sufficient" which is misleading. It's more like 90-95% failed.
Stating that the sun is the primary source of vitamin D is arguable in So California but it is flat wrong in Canada.
The cost of fortifying more foods is a miniscule drop in the bucket compared to savings to society.
Susan Whiting is actually on the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, meaning she is one of 14 academics who will be recommending the new dietary required intake and tolerable upper intake limit.
William B. Grant 1 *, Gerry K. Schwalfenberg 2, Stephen J. Genuis 3, Susan J. Whiting 4
1Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC), San Francisco, CA, USA
2Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alb., Canada
3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alb., Canada
4College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, USA
email: William B. Grant (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Correspondence to William B. Grant, Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC), P. O. Box 641603, San Francisco, CA 94164-1603, USA
Vitamin D Society (Canada)
UV Foundation (McLean, VA)
Sunlight Research Forum (Veldhoven)
Bio-Tech-Pharmacal (Fayetteville, AR)
Dairy Farmers, Yoplait, and IADSA
The objective of this work is to estimate the economic burden and premature death rate in Canada attributable to low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many diseases and conditions in addition to bone diseases, including many types of cancer, several bacterial and viral infections, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Canadians have mean serum 25(OH)D levels averaging 67 nmol/L.
The journal literature was searched for papers reporting dose-response relationships for vitamin D indices and disease outcomes. The types of studies useful in this regard include randomized controlled trials, observational, cross-sectional, and ecological studies, and meta-analyses.
The mortality rates for 2005 were obtained from Statistics Canada. The economic burden data were obtained from Health Canada.
The estimated benefits in disease reduction were based on increasing the mean serum 25(OH)D level to 105 nmol/L. It is estimated that the death rate could fall by 37 000 deaths (22 300-52 300 deaths), representing 16.1% (9.7-22.7%) of annuals deaths and the economic burden by 6.9% (3.8-10.0%) or $14.4 billion ($8.0 billion-$20.1 billion) less the cost of the program.
It is recommended that Canadian health policy leaders consider measures to increase serum 25(OH)D levels for all Canadians.
Received: 28 August 2009; Revised: 28 October 2009; Accepted: 20 November 2009