, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 94-106,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 28 Apr 2009

Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Health Consequences in Africa

Abstract

Africa is heterogeneous in latitude, geography, climate, food availability, religious and cultural practices, and skin pigmentation. It is expected, therefore, that prevalence of vitamin D deficiency varies widely, in line with influences on skin exposure to UVB sunshine. Furthermore, low calcium intakes and heavy burden of infectious disease common in many countries may increase vitamin D utilization and turnover. Studies of plasma 25OHD concentration indicate a spectrum from clinical deficiency to values at the high end of the physiological range; however, data are limited. Representative studies of status in different countries, using comparable analytical techniques, and of relationships between vitamin D status and risk of infectious and chronic diseases relevant to the African context are needed. Public health measures to secure vitamin D adequacy cannot encompass the whole continent and need to be developed locally.