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Estimated benefit of increased vitamin D status in reducing the economic burden of disease in western Europe

Vitamin D has important benefits in reducing the risk of many conditions and diseases. Those diseases for which the benefits are well supported and that have large economic effects include many types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, several bacterial and viral infections, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Europeans generally have low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels owing to the high latitudes, largely indoor living, low natural dietary sources of vitamin D such as cold-water ocean fish, and lack of effective vitamin D fortification of food in most countries. Vitamin D dose–disease response relations were estimated from observational studies and randomized controlled trials. The reduction in direct plus indirect economic burden of disease was based on increasing the mean serum 25(OH)D level to 40 ng/mL, which could be achieved by a daily intake of 2000–3000 IU of vitamin D. For 2007, the reduction is estimated at €187,000 million/year. The estimated cost of 2000–3000 IU of vitamin D3/day along with ancillary costs such as education and testing might be about €10,000 million/year. Sources of vitamin D could include a combination of food fortification, supplements, and natural and artificial UVB irradiation, if properly acquired. Additional randomized controlled trials are warranted to evaluate the benefits and risks of vitamin D supplementation. However, steps to increase serum 25(OH)D levels can be implemented now based on what is already known.