Published on June 14, 2022
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” — Benjamin Franklin
All eight of the chronic diseases reported to be the most expensive are associated with vitamin D
- Vitamin D is associated with all eight of eight of the chronic diseases reported to be the most expensive
- Of the 30 leading causes of death reported in the United States in 2010, 19 are linked to low vitamin D status
- A veterans study found that patients who received one or more follow-up vitamin D tests had 50% lower inpatient laboratory and pharmacy costs, as compared to those that only received one test; almost 300% higher costs were seen among those who were vitamin D deficient and did not have follow-up testing, compared to those who were sufficient and who also followed up with a vitamin D test
In the US, the CDC (2022) reports that “90% of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual healthcare expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions.”
Vitamin D is associated with all eight of eight of the chronic diseases reported to be the most expensive; see below:
- Heart Disease and Stroke (cost the healthcare system $216 billion) (Benjamin et al., 2018)
- Cancer (Cancer care costs are expected to reach almost $240 billion by 2030) (Mariotto et al., 2020)
- Diabetes (Estimated medical and lost productivity cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2017 was $327 billion) (American Diabetes Association, 2018)
- Obesity (Costs $147 billion per year to the US healthcare system) (Finkelstein et al., 2009)
- Arthritis ($303.5 billion, which includes $140 for medical costs and $164 billion for indirect costs with lost wages) (Murphy et al., 2018)
- Alzheimer’s Disease ($305 billion for patient care and treatment) (Alzheimer’s Impact Movement and Alzheimer’s Association, 2020)
- Epilepsy ($8.6 billion in direct healthcare costs in 2016) (Dieleman et al., 2020)
- Tooth Decay ($45 billion in lost productivity) (Righolt et al., 2018)
Wow! Health Care Costs 39% Higher if Vitamin D Deficient, Finds Veterans Study
A 2008 study reported a retrospective chart analysis in a Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital in the Southeastern United States. The study found that overall healthcare costs were 39% higher in veterans with vitamin D deficiency, as defined in this study by levels <20 ng/ml (50 nmol/L). Patients with vitamin D deficiency were found to have:
- more frequent clinic visits
- more frequent ER visits
- increased inpatient stay and inpatient services
For those patients with vitamin D test results, roughly 30-50% were vitamin D deficient on their initial test. The VA center with the lowest percentage of vitamin D deficiency also had more than 50% lower inpatient costs than the three centers with the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency. Also, patients who received one or more follow-up tests had 50% lower inpatient laboratory and pharmacy costs, as compared to those who only received one test (which gives the patient data required to maintain their optimal vitamin D level).
They compared patients who were (1) both deficient and never had a follow-up test, with (2) those who were only deficient or had no follow-up test, and (3) those who were both sufficient and had at least one follow-up test. The first group had 70% higher total inpatient costs than the second group, and almost 300% higher costs than the third group. Because of this finding, the study authors proposed that as a standard practice, vitamin D levels should be checked once or twice a year until they are stable at the desired level.
*Note: While the study used 20 ng/ml as their marker for vitamin D deficiency, the GrassrootsHealth panel of vitamin D scientists recommends the vitamin D level be a minimum of 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L).
Different Diseases Require Different Optimal Vitamin D Levels for Prevention – Each Identified as Above 20 ng/ml
A review by Grant et al. defined optimal vitamin D levels necessary to help prevent certain diseases known to be major causes of death, based on a review of the strongest evidence published to date. The findings showed that optimal vitamin D levels needed for each outcome ranged from 25 ng/ml to 60 ng/ml – all of which were above the 20 ng/ml vitamin level. The study concluded that “…raising serum 25(OH)D concentrations to optimal concentrations will result in a significant reduction in preventable illness and death.”
How much additional cost could have been saved if the vitamin D deficiency cut-off was raised to 40 ng/ml? 60 ng/ml?
Vitamin D Researchers Agree: Addressing Vitamin D Deficiency is Cost-Effective, Preserving Healthcare Resources and Saving Lives
One of the many topics vitamin D scientists discussed in Baggerly et al. (2015) was the cost-effectiveness of addressing vitamin D deficiency in public health, estimating a reduction of direct costs in healthcare to be roughly $130 billion annually. “Of the 30 leading causes of death reported in the United States in 2010, 19 are linked to low vitamin D status…”
Take steps for your own health to ensure optimal vitamin D levels – for your family and loved ones as well – by measuring at home today.
How Can You Use this Information for YOUR Health?
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Measuring is the only way to make sure you are getting enough!
STEP 1 Order your at-home blood spot test kit to measure vitamin D and other nutrients of concern to you, such as omega-3s, magnesium, essential and toxic elements (zinc, copper, selenium, lead, cadmium, mercury); include hsCRP as a marker of inflammation or HbA1c for blood sugar health
STEP 2 Answer the online questionnaire as part of the GrassrootsHealth study
STEP 3 Using our educational materials and tools (such as our dose calculators), assess your results to determine if you are in your desired target range or if actions should be taken to get there
STEP 4 After 3-6 months of implementing your changes, re-test to see if you have achieved your target level(s)