, Volume 471, Issue 9, pp 3029-3035

Is There an Epidemic Vitamin D Deficiency in German Orthopaedic Patients?

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Abstract

Background

Vitamin D plays an essential role in bone health and muscle function. Some studies have shown a widespread rate of vitamin D deficiency in the general population, but few have reported on the vitamin D status of orthopaedic patients.

Questions/purposes

We investigated (1) the extent of hypovitaminosis D in orthopaedic patients, (2) seasonal variations in vitamin D levels, and (3) possible risk factors for insufficient vitamin D levels.

Methods

Vitamin D levels in 1119 patients consecutively admitted to an orthopaedic surgery department in 2011 were measured. To investigate the correlation between climate factors and vitamin D levels, the sunshine hours for each month in 2011 were collected by Deutscher Wetterdienst (the German weather service) in the region where most tested patients lived. The prevalence of normal (> 30 ng/mL), insufficient (20–30 ng/mL), and deficient (< 20 ng/mL) 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels was determined. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to assess risk factors for insufficient vitamin D levels.

Results

Overall, 84% of patients had insufficient levels of vitamin D and 60% were vitamin D deficient. Only 15% were in the target range of 30 to 60 ng/mL. The prevalence of low vitamin D levels was greater during winter and months with fewer sunshine hours. Vitamin D levels did not vary according to age, sex, and disease. Individuals with obesity, hypertension, and osteoporosis were more likely to have low vitamin D levels compared with their healthy counterparts.

Conclusions

There is an alarmingly high rate of hypovitaminosis D and vitamin D deficiency among orthopaedic patients in this region of Germany, whose latitude (50° N) is approximately the same as those of Vancouver (49°, 15’ N) and Paris (48°, 51’ N). Given the well-known effects on bone metabolism and muscle health, low vitamin D levels may negatively affect patients. Screening and treating hypovitaminosis D appears to be important in this patient population.

Level of Evidence

Level II, prognostic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Each author certifies that he or she, or a member of his or her immediate family, has no funding or commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.
All ICMJE Conflict of Interest Forms for authors and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research editors and board members are on file with the publication and can be viewed on request.
Each author certifies that his or her institution approved the human protocol for this investigation, that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research, and that informed consent for participation in the study was obtained.
This work was performed at Universitätsmedizin Mainz, Mainz, Germany.