Health In Focus
  • Estrogen disruptor chemicals (EDCs) are found in cosmetics, food packaging and children’s toys.
  • Exposure to EDCs is associated with lower levels of vitamin D.
  • Women are found to have a more pronounced effect than men.

Researchers from The University of Michigan's Public School of Health have found that Vitamin D levels are lowered due to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like Bisphenol A (BPA). This is the first study that was conducted to understand the impact of endocrine disruptors on the level of vitamin A in the body.
Certain Children’s Toys Could Lower Vitamin D Levels

Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that affect the endocrine system of the body, leading to
  • Developmental
  • Neurological
  • Reproductive
  • Immune effects of the body
There been more than 1300 studies that have shown that the exposure to endocrine disruptors can lead to a host of diseases that range from hormone related cancers, obesity, neurological problems, infertility, obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Lauren Johns who is the first author of the study said "Nearly every person on the planet is exposed to BPA and another class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals called phthalates, so the possibility that these chemicals may even slightly reduce vitamin D levels has widespread implications for public health. Vitamin D plays a broad role in maintaining bone and muscle health. In addition, low vitamin D levels have been implicated in outcomes of numerous conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer."

EDC Exposure and Vitamin D Levels

The study included 4667 adults who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) which was conducted during the period 2005 and 2010. Blood and urine samples of the study participants were analyzed, the blood samples were used to detect the level of vitamin D while the urine samples were used to detect the concentration of EDC.

The study found that
  • Increased in concentration of phthalates resulted in lower levels of vitamin D
  • Women were found to be more affected by phthalate levels than men
  • Increased concentration of Bisphenol A in the blood resulted in lower levels of vitamin D, especially in women
Senior author of the study, Dr. John D. Meeker said "More research is needed into why an association exists, but it is possible that EDCs alter the active form of vitamin D in the body through some of the same mechanisms that they use to impact similar reproductive and thyroid hormones. Confirmatory studies are needed to show whether this association exists in other populations."

Sources of Endocrine Disruptors

EDCs include
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Pesticides
  • Dioxin and dioxin like compounds
  • Bisphenol A
Sources of EDCs include
Mechanism of Action

EDCs affect the body by
  • Over stimulation of hormones: EDCs mimic hormones and lead to overstimulation.
  • Binding to receptors: EDCs bind to target receptors and prevent attachment of the hormone.
Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is essential for proper bone growth and development in the body.

The deficiency of vitamin D is found to lead to:
  • Poor bone development.
  • Development of rickets (softening or weakening of bones in children) or osteomalacia.
  • Poor bone density.
  • Increased risk for fracture.
  • In the NHANES II study, it was found that the risk of death was lower by 45% when vitamin D levels were above 45ng/mL.
  • Increased risk for cancer.
  • Increased risk of infection.
  • Increased risk for mental illness.
There are a lot of complications that are associated with low levels of vitamin D and the presence of EDCs in commonly used products like cosmetics and children's toys increases the risk for lowered levels of vitamin D and associated diseases.

  1. Endocrine Disruptors - (
  2. The Estrogenic Endocrine Disrupting Chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) And Obesity - (
  3. Vitamin D Insufficiency - (
Source: Medindia

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