Africa is heterogeneous in latitude, geography, climate, food availability, religious and cultural practices, and skin pigmentation. It is expected, therefore, that prevalence of vitamin D deficiency varies widely, in line with influences on skin exposure to UVB sunshine. Furthermore, low calcium intakes and heavy burden of infectious disease common in many countries may increase vitamin D utilization and turnover. Studies of plasma 25OHD concentration indicate a spectrum from clinical deficiency to values at the high end of the physiological range; however, data are limited. Representative studies of status in different countries, using comparable analytical techniques, and of relationships between vitamin D status and risk of infectious and chronic diseases relevant to the African context are needed. Public health measures to secure vitamin D adequacy cannot encompass the whole continent and need to be developed locally.
Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Calcium intake; Children; Osteomalacia; Rickets; Sunlight; Vitamin D status; Vitamin D turnover.