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Hypovitaminosis D is prevalent worldwide but proportions vary widely between regions, depending on genetic and lifestyle factors, the threshold to define deficiency, and accuracy of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) assays used. Latitude, pollution, concealing clothing, sun exposure, gender, dietary habits, and lack of government regulation account for up to 50% in variations in serum 25OHD levels, whereas genetic polymorphisms in the vitamin D pathway account for less than 5%. Organizations/societies have developed guidelines for recommended desirable 25OHD levels and vitamin D doses to reach them, but their applicability across age groups and populations are still debated. This article and the accompanying online Supporting Information highlight sources of variations in circulating 25OHD levels, uncertainties and knowledge gaps, and analytical problems facing 25OHD assays, while keeping efficacy and safety data as the dominant factors when defining a desirable range for 25OHD levels. We propose a desirable range of 20 to 40 ng/mL (50 to 100 nmol/L), provided precise and accurate assays are used. Although slightly lower levels, 15 to 20 ng/mL, may be sufficient for some infants and adults, higher levels, 40 to 60 ng/mL, may still be safe. This desirable range allows physicians to tailor treatment while taking season, lifestyle, vitamin D intake, and other sources of variation into account. We reserve 25OHD measurements for at-risk patients, defined by disease or lifestyle, and the use of 25OHD assays calibrated against the recommended international standards. Most target groups reach desirable target levels by a daily intake of 400 to 600 IU for children and 800 IU for adults. A total daily allowance of vitamin D of up to 1000 IU in the pediatric age groups, and up to 2000 IU in adults, tailored to an individual patient risk profile, is probably safe over long durations. Additional data are needed to validate the proposed range and vitamin D doses, especially in children, pregnant women, and non-white populations.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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