The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found insufficient evidence to assess the benefits and harms of screening for vitamin D deficiency in asymptomatic adults. The recommendation statement (DOI: 10.7326/M14-2450) and systematic evidence review (DOI: 10.7326/M14-1659) are being published together in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Vitamin D is obtained through diet (fatty fish, cod liver oil, dairy products, fortified beverages and food, and supplements) and synthesis triggered by sun exposure. There is no consensus on optimal serum levels of vitamin D, but studies show an association between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk for fractures, falls, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, depression, cognitive decline, and death. As such, identifying persons with low serum levels of vitamin D may help to prevent adverse outcomes.
Researchers for the USPSTF conducted a systematic review of published evidence to assess the benefits and harms of screening for vitamin D deficiency in asymptomatic adults. The researchers found no direct evidence on the effects of screening for vitamin D deficiency versus no screening on clinical outcomes. They did find evidence that treating non-institutionalized patients with vitamin D deficiency might decrease risk of falls, but it was not associated with decreased risk of fractures or mortality in this population.
Based on this review, the USPSTF concludes that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of routine screening for vitamin D deficiency. The recommendation applies to asymptomatic, community-dwelling nonpregnant adults aged 18 years and older. Vitamin D deficiency is a new recommendation topic for the USPSTF.
Annals of Internal Medicine