Osteoporosis International

, 20:133 | Cite as

Global vitamin D levels in relation to age, gender, skin pigmentation and latitude: an ecologic meta-regression analysis

  • T. Hagenau
  • R. Vest
  • T. N. Gissel
  • C. S. Poulsen
  • M. Erlandsen
  • L. Mosekilde
  • P. VestergaardEmail author
Original Article



We performed a meta-analysis of cross-sectional studies on serum 25(OH)D status globally. Serum 25(OH)D levels on average were 54 nmol/l, were higher in women than men, and higher in Caucasians than in non-Caucasians. There was no trend in serum 25(OH)D level with latitude. Vitamin D deficiency was widespread.


We studied vitamin D status (expressed as serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D]) in native subjects worldwide.


Meta-analysis and meta-regression of studies reporting on 25(OH)D in healthy subjects retrieved from Pubmed, Embase and Web of Science using the terms “serum”, “25-hydroxy-vitamin D”, “cholecalciferol”, and “human”. A total of 394 studies were included.


The mean 25(OH)D level was 54 nmol/l (95% CI: 52–57 nmol/l). Women had borderline significantly higher 25(OH)D levels than men, and Caucasians had higher levels than non-Caucasians. 25(OH)D levels were higher in subjects aged >15 years than in younger subjects. Unadjusted there was no significant decrease in 25(OH)D with latitude (slope of curve −0.03 ± 0.12 nmol/l per degree latitude north or south of equator, p = 0.8). There was a significant decline with latitude for Caucasians (−0.69 ± 0.30 nmol/l per degree, p = 0.02), but not for non-Caucasians (0.03 ± 0.39 nmol/l per degree, p = 0.14). After adjustment for age, gender, and ethnicity, no overall correlation was present between 25(OH)D and latitude (−0.29 ± 0.24 nmol/l per degree, p = 0.23).


There was no overall influence of latitude on 25(OH)D. However, in separate analyses 25(OH)D decreased with latitude in Caucasians but not in non-Caucasians. A widespread global vitamin D insufficiency was present compared with proposed threshold levels.


Cholecalciferol Latitude Meta-analysis Serum vitamin D 



Research librarian Ms. Edith Clausen is acknowledged for skilful technical assistance with the references.

Conflicts of interest


Supplementary material

198_2008_626_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1.17 MB)


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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Hagenau
    • 1
  • R. Vest
    • 1
  • T. N. Gissel
    • 1
  • C. S. Poulsen
    • 1
  • M. Erlandsen
    • 2
  • L. Mosekilde
    • 1
  • P. Vestergaard
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism C, Aarhus AmtssygehusAarhus University HospitalAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Department of BiostatisticsAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  3. 3.The Osteoporosis ClinicAarhus AmtssygehusAarhus CDenmark

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