The objective of this work is to estimate the economic burden and premature death rate in Canada attributable to low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many diseases and conditions in addition to bone diseases, including many types of cancer, several bacterial and viral infections, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Canadians have mean serum 25(OH)D levels averaging 67 nmol/L. The journal literature was searched for papers reporting dose-response relationships for vitamin D indices and disease outcomes. The types of studies useful in this regard include randomized controlled trials, observational, cross-sectional, and ecological studies, and meta-analyses. The mortality rates for 2005 were obtained from Statistics Canada. The economic burden data were obtained from Health Canada. The estimated benefits in disease reduction were based on increasing the mean serum 25(OH)D level to 105 nmol/L.

It is estimated that the death rate could fall by 37 000 deaths (22 300-52 300 deaths), representing 16.1% (9.7-22.7%) of annuals deaths and the economic burden by 6.9% (3.8-10.0%) or $14.4 billion ($8.0 billion-$20.1 billion) less the cost of the program.

It is recommended that Canadian health policy leaders consider measures to increase serum 25(OH)D levels for all Canadians.