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Vitamin D status in active duty Navy military personnel: a systematic review


Objectives Active duty Navy military personnel are prone to vitamin D deficiency due to an occupational environment detrimental to sunlight exposure. The main objective of this systematic review is to provide a worldwide overview of vitamin D status in this population.

Methods The Condition, Context, Population (CoCoPop) mnemonic was used to define the inclusion criteria (vitamin D status; all contexts; active duty Navy military personnel). Studies with recruits or veterans were excluded. Scopus, Web of Science and PubMed/Medline databases were searched from inception to 30 June 2022. Joanna Briggs Institute and Downs & Black checklists were used for quality assessment and data were synthesised in narrative and tabular formats.

Results Thirteen studies published between 1975 and 2022 and conducted in northern hemisphere Navies, including mainly young and male service members, were included. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was globally reported as significant. Nine studies included a total of 305 male submariners who performed 30–92 days submarine patrol and reported the effect of sunlight deprivation in the decrease of vitamin D levels.

Conclusions This new systematic review underlines the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the Navy, especially in submariners, and the need to implement measures to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Serum 25(OH)D data available and the heterogeneity of the studies limited a pooled analysis. Most studies included only submariners, which may limit generalisability to all active duty Navy military personnel. Further research on this topic should be promoted.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42022287057.

  • military personnel
  • occupational health
  • health services research
  • occupational health services
  • preventive medicine

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