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

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberoemed-2022-108710
Pages (from-to)353-360
JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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


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