Background: Inadequate vitamin D status is a worldwide problem. Evidence is accumulating that individuals with low vitamin D status have excess mortality rates. We calculated to which extent annual mortality rates can be reduced in the German population by optimizing vitamin D status.
Results: Mean serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the DEVID study cohort were 41 nmol/l (SD: 22 nmol/l). More than 90% of individuals had 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations below the threshold that was associated with lowest mortality risk in the two aforementioned trials (75 nmol/l). According to conservative estimations, at least 2.2% of all deaths or 18,300 lives annually can be saved by achieving 25(OH)D concentrations of at least 75 nmol/l in the entire adult German population. Available data provide evidence for an exponential increase in total mortality with deficient 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations.
Methods: Our calculations are based on (1) an annual mortality rate of 1.34% in the adult German population as provided by the Statistical Yearbook, (2) the actual vitamin D status in German adults with a high mortality risk as assessed in 1,343 individuals from 264 general practitioners in different German regions (DEVID study), and (3) data from two very large prospective cohorts (Dobnig et al. 2008; Melamed et al. 2008) about the excess mortality in individuals with inadequate vitamin D status.
Conclusion: Improving vitamin D status in a population with inadequate vitamin D status might be an effective strategy to reduce annual mortality rates.
Keywords: deficiency; food fortification; mortality; survival; vitamin D.