Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health epidemic that does not get a lot of discussion, likely because the effects take a while to manifest. However, this condition can lead to issues like osteoporosis and increased susceptibility for various diseases.
A recent study has found that there are certain occupations that are more at risk for vitamin D deficiency than others. In fact, this study was a meta-analysis that surveyed results of dozens of existing studies. As a result, it included over 53,000 people living throughout the globe, making it one of the most comprehensive to date. What occupations were found to be most at risk of vitamin D deficiency? Let’s take a look.
The greatest risk was found among shift workers, of which an astonishing 80% were found to be vitamin D deficient. This means that four out of every five people who work fixed shift schedules suffer from deficiency.
Shift workers include people who work standard shifts such as morning, evening, or graveyard (overnight) shifts. Many work in areas such as factories; however, shift workers also include occupations such as servers, cooks, hairdressers, and retail workers. It certainly makes sense for people working night shifts to be vitamin D deficient as they often sleep during daylight hours, but all shift workers were at greater risk.
People who work indoors were found to be the second most likely group to suffer from vitamin D deficiency. People in these occupations were found to be vitamin D deficient 77% of the time, placing them just behind shift workers.
This is not overly surprising as the sun accounts for roughly 90% of people’s vitamin D production. People who spend their workdays indoors are not likely to encounter the sun as often, yielding potential reductions in vitamin D production.
The third most likely occupation for vitamin D deficiency was medical students. Students specifically are high at risk due to the rigorous demands of medical school training which necessitates lots of hours working indoors and lots of time spend studying – all of which contributes to spending less time outdoors. In total, 72% of medical students had deficiency.
Rates for non-student medical personnel were also high for many occupations. For example, practicing physicians had a 46% rate of vitamin D deficiency and nurses a 43% rate. This suggests that even the most knowledgeable people about health can also suffer from this condition in high numbers.
The lifestyles and working styles of many people predispose them to a great risk of vitamin D deficiency. For people who spend a lot of time indoors, prioritizing time in the sun each day such as a short walk can be an effective way to decrease risk. Utilizing a sunlamp is another convenient, highly effective way to reduce the risk of vitamin D deficiency.