Vitamin D: data

The 2010 and 2011 Scottish Health Surveys collected samples of blood from participants which have subsequently been analysed by the Food Standards Agency Scotland  to assess vitamin D levels in the population. This showed that the mean serum vitamin D level for the Scottish population was 37.5nmol/l, but that there was substantial variation across the population. Table 1 shows that mean vitamin D levels are lower with increasing deprivation and the percentage of the population with low levels of vitamin D is substantially higher in the more deprived areas.

Table 1 – Vitamin D levels in population aged >16 years by deprivation in 2010-2011 (Source: Purdon 2013)

Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile5 (least deprived) 1 (most deprived) 
Mean vitamin D (nmol/L)  45.7  40.9  38.7  31.5  31.3 
Percentage of population with suboptimal vitamin D (<25 nmol/l)  25 26 29 38 47
95% confidence interval  (19-33)  (21-32)  (22-38)  (31-46)  (39-55) 

 

A 2007 study based on 7,437 adults from the 1958 British birth cohort found that vitamin D levels in Scottish individuals were lower than those living in other parts of the UK (Table 2 – adapted from Hypponen and Power, 2007).

Table 2 - Mean 25-hydroxyvitamin D and prevalence of hypovitaminosis D at three thresholds
Region of residenceSubjects (n)Mean (95% confidence intervals) (nmol/L)< 25 nmol/L< 40 nmol/L< 75 nmol/L
Winter/spring          
Southern England 1,226 42.6 (41.5, 43.7) 12.5 43.8 86.2
Midlands and Wales 690 40.6 (39.3, 42.0) 16.1 46.9 87.9
Northern England 676 41.2 (39.7, 42.7) 17.5 46.6 85.9
Scotland 256 35.4 (33.4, 37.5) 23.5 60 92.2
Summer and autumn          
Southern England 1,627 62.4 (61.2, 63.6) 2.7 12.3 56.7
Midlands and Wales 1,238 60.4 (59.1, 61.8) 2.1 14.8 62.4
Northern England 1,261 60.9 (59.5, 62.3) 3.3 15.7 60
Scotland 456 50.9 (48.9, 53.0) 8.3 27.5 74.9


Although there are plausible reasons why vitamin D levels may be lower in the Scottish population than in other countries, there are little data for comparison. Deficiency has also been reported to be common in countries where the population experiences more sunlight than in the UK; for example the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of healthy adults reported that 41.6% of the participants had levels of less than

Please note: If you require the most up-to-date data available, please check the data sources directly as new data may have been published since these data pages were last updated. Although we endeavour to ensure that the data pages are kept up-to-date, there may be a time lag between new data being published and the relevant ScotPHO web pages being updated.