More than 80 % of adults likely to suffer from inadequate vitamin D status in Luxembourg.

2015 - 10 - 14

Public health study: More than 80 % of adults likely to suffer from inadequate vitamin D status in Luxembourg.

The Department of Population Health at LIH conducts public health, epidemiologic and clinical research with the objective to improve health and healthcare. A recent study led by senior researcher Dr Ala’a Al Kerwi, based on data from the cardiovascular health survey ORISCAV-LUX, revealed a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in a large part of Luxembourg’s population. 

Vitamin D is known to play an essential role in bone health. It is synthesised by the skin when exposed to UVB (ultraviolet B radiation) from sunlight and provided to a lesser extend through food intake. Luxembourg, despite its climatic conditions generally unfavourable to UVB exposure, was previously one of the few European countries that did not have national data on vitamin D levels. In the context of the ORISCAV-LUX survey including over 1400 adult participants, vitamin D measurements were conducted for the first time on a representative sample of the population.

‘In more than 50% of the cases, a deficiency or insufficiency of vitamin D was detected’ states Dr Al Kerwi. This result combined with socio-demographic and clinical data and with information on the participants’ lifestyle allowed identifying population groups that are particularly at risk. ‘Smokers appear to be two times more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency than non-smokers’ says Dr Al Kerwi. ‘Overweight people and residents of Portuguese origin or from non-European countries were also among the vulnerable groups’ she explains further. Interestingly, people who considered themselves as being in a poor health condition had generally lower vitamin D levels.

These findings are of utmost importance for physicians and public health authorities, considering that an optimal level of vitamin D can be a marker for healthy aging. ‘Vitamin D insufficiency, in addition to being involved in osteoporosis or muscle fatigue in the elderly, is thought to be associated with common chronic diseases such as cancer, immune disorders and cardiovascular diseases’ points out Prof Saverio Stranges, co-author and Scientific Director of the Department. It is thus essential to create awareness on the importance of vitamin D and to develop specific recommendations on health behaviour.

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