Vitamin D status and supplementation in Antarctica: a systematic review and meta- analysis

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2021 Dec;80(1):1926133. doi: 10.1080/22423982.2021.1926133.


Living at high latitudes is associated with vitamin D (VD) deficiency. An ideal setting to study this is the Antarctic continent, which has temporary inhabitants, but the magnitude of the effect of living in Antarctica and the effects of VD supplementation on this population remain unclear. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effect of temporary residence in Antarctica and impact of VD supplementation on VD status of this population. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed to assess serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration changes after Antarctic residence (13 studies, 294 subjects) and after VD supplementation (5 studies, 213 subjects). Serum 25(OH)D mean difference after temporary residence in Antarctica was -15.0 nmol/L (95%CI: -25.9, -4.2; I²=92%). Subgroup meta-analyses of studies evaluating Antarctic summer and winter stays showed 25(OH)D only decreases when overwintering (winter 25(OH)D change -17.0 nmol/L [95%CI: -24.1, -9.8; I²=83%] vs. summer 25(OH)D change 1.3 nmol/L [95%CI: -14.6, 17.1; I²=86%]). The meta-analysis of VD supplementation studies in Antarctica showed a mean 25(OH)D increase after supplementation of 10.8 nmol/L (95%CI: 3.3, 18.3; I²=88%). In conclusion, VD status significantly worsens after inhabiting Antarctica, particularly when over-wintering. VD supplementation can prevent worsening of VD status and should be considered in this population.

Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Antarctica; Vitamin D; Vitamin D deficiency; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antarctic Regions
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Seasons
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / epidemiology


  • Vitamin D

Grants and funding

Instituto Antártico Chileno project number RT_28-15; Instituto Antartico Chileno [RT_28-15];