Around four million Australian adults were Vitamin D deficient in 2011–12, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.
Ms Louise Gates, ABS Director of Health Statistics, said that while the rate of Vitamin D deficiency was relatively high - there were very few people who were severely deficient.
"We know that Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium effectively, which is important for bone health and muscle function. A severe Vitamin D deficiency can lead to brittle and fragile bones.
"Although we found that around one in every four Australian adults (23 per cent) had a Vitamin D deficiency, the good news was that most of these people had a mild deficiency (17 per cent) or a moderate deficiency (6 per cent), with less than 1 per cent having a severe deficiency," said Ms Gates.
The results also showed that Vitamin D levels varied considerably by state and season.
"In summer, Vitamin D deficiency was relatively low across all the States and Territories, ranging from 6 per cent in Queensland to 19 per cent in New South Wales," said Ms Gates.
"In winter, however, rates of Vitamin D deficiency were particularly high in the south eastern states of Victoria (49 per cent), ACT (49 per cent) and Tasmania (43 per cent), but remained low in the northern states of Queensland (15 per cent) and the Northern Territory (17 per cent)," said Ms Gates.
The survey also collected information on use of Vitamin D supplements. Around one in twenty Australian adults were taking Vitamin D supplements in 2011–12, with supplement use highest in Tasmania (9 per cent) and Victoria (8 per cent) and lowest in Queensland (2 per cent) and the Northern Territory (less than 1 per cent).
Further information is available in Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Nutrients (cat. no. 4364.0.55.006) available for free download from the ABS website.
- In the NHMS, the levels recommended in a recent Australian position statement on Vitamin D have been applied to determine Vitamin D deficiency. These are:
- Total deficiency: <50 nmol/L
- Mild deficiency: 30 – 49 nmol/L
- Moderate deficiency: 13 – 29 nmol/L
- Severe deficiency: <13 nmol/L .
- When reporting ABS data the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
- Media requests and interviews - contact the ABS Communications Section on 1300 175 070.