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N Z Med J. 2012 Feb 10;125(1349):83-91.

Should measurement of vitamin D and treatment of vitamin D insufficiency be routine in New Zealand?

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Bone and Joint Research Group, Department of Medicine, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92 019, Auckland, New Zealand.


Epidemiological studies have reported associations between lower vitamin D levels and a great variety of diseases, prompting calls for widespread treatment of individuals with low vitamin D levels. Most of New Zealand's population have vitamin D levels for at least part of the year that are considered insufficient (25-hydroxyvitamin D <50-80 nmol/L). However, evidence for benefits of vitamin D supplementation in such populations is controversial and there is some evidence of harmful effects. Until adequately powered, randomised, controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation demonstrate safe improvements in health, clinicians should not focus on detecting/treating individuals with vitamin D insufficiency, instead treating those at high risk of vitamin D deficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D <25 nmol/L), such as the frail elderly, and those with specific clinical indications. Treatment for such individuals does not require vitamin D measurements. Requests for vitamin D measurements in Auckland have nearly quadrupled in the past decade, from 8500 in the year 2000 to 32,800 in 2010, with substantial increases in cost. Vitamin D measurement is often inaccurate and imprecise, and the vast majority of tests performed currently do not reveal vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, a move away from routine vitamin D measurements seems sensible, though they are still indicated when investigating suspected metabolic bone disease or hypocalcaemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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