Ziegler T. 2017. Establishing evolutionarily derived levels of vitamin D through metabolic profiles in primates. In Ward A, Coslik A, Brooks M Eds. Proceedings of the Twelfth Conference on Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition, Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation and AZA Nutrition Advisory Group, Frisco, TX.
Recent data has indicated that captive nonhuman primates have higher levels of circulating vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D3) than the naturally derived vitamin D levels found in nonhuman primates living in their native habitats. Determining the appropriate amount of vitamin D to supplement captive animals may require determining their evolutionary needs for vitamin D. Blood samples obtained from three species of baboons (Papio), living in their native habitat in Africa revealed different levels of circulating vitamin D. Each species had different coloration in their skin and hair. The darkest baboon, the Anubis baboon (Papio Anubis), had the lowest levels of circulating vitamin D. The same species in captivity in the United States had levels almost twice has high. Using a vitamin D panel, we were able to look at the metabolism of vitamin D and determine levels of vitamin D sufficiency in all three species.