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Canadian Health Measures Survey: Non-environmental laboratory and medication data, 2016 and 2017

Released: 2019-02-06

The majority of Canadians have adequate vitamin D

Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, which are used by the body to build and maintain strong bones. Vitamin D can be obtained through the diet (from foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, or fortified products such as milk or juice) as well as through the use of supplements. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D by Health Canada and the Institute of Medicine ranges from 400 to 800 IU (10 to 25 mcg) depending on a person's age or sex.

The 2016 and 2017 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) measured vitamin D in blood of Canadians aged 3 to 79. A blood level of vitamin D of 50 nmol/L or higher is generally adequate for most people. Almost three-quarters (73%) of Canadians aged 3 to 79 had adequate vitamin D levels. Fewer youth and young adults aged 12 to 39 had adequate vitamin D levels (62%) compared with children (84% of people aged 3 to 11) and older adults (81% of people aged 40 to 79). Adequate vitamin D was similar for males (71%) and females (76%).

Nearly one-third (31%) of Canadians reported taking at least one supplement containing vitamin D. Overall, those who reported taking at least one supplement containing vitamin D were more likely to have adequate vitamin D levels (89%) compared with those not taking supplements (66%).

The Canadian Health Measures Survey has been measuring vitamin D in the blood of Canadians since its first cycle, which took place from 2007 to 2009. The percentage of the population with adequate vitamin D levels has remained fairly stable since 2007. The use of supplements containing vitamin D has not changed since 2012 (data before 2012 are not available through the CHMS).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Proportion of the population aged 6 to 79 with adequate vitamin D, measured in blood
Proportion of the population aged 6 to 79 with adequate vitamin D, measured in blood

  Note to readers

Cycle 5 of the Canadian Health Measures Survey was conducted from January 2016 to December 2017. The target population consists of persons 3 to 79 years of age living in the 10 provinces. The observed population excludes: persons living in the three territories; persons living on reserves and other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces; full-time members of the Canadian Forces; the institutionalized population and residents of certain remote regions. Altogether these exclusions represent approximately 3% of the target population.

This release of the CHMS includes blood and urine measures of nutritional status, cardiovascular health, chemistry panel and infectious disease status for Canadians aged 3 to 79. The release also includes data on medication use, including the use of nutritional supplementation of certain ingredients, such as vitamin D and iron.

Users should note that the testing methods for certain tests in blood and urine have differed across cycles. In some cases in past cycles, correction factors have been developed in order to better compare the data. For more information on the methods used in Cycle 5, refer to the CHMS Cycle 5 Data User Guide, which is available upon request.

Weight files and instructions are available for combining Cycle 5 Canadian Health Measures Survey data (where possible) with equivalent data from Cycles 2 to 4.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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