Teenage girls and elderly women living in northern Europe have low winter vitamin D status

Rikke Andersen, C. Molgaard, L. T. Skovgaard, C. Brot, K. D. Cashman, E. Chabros, J. Charzewska, A. Flynn, Jette Jakobsen, M. Karkkainen, M. Kiely, C. Lamberg-Allardt, O. Moreiras, A. M. Natri, M. O'Brien, M. Rogalska-Niedzwiedz, Lars Ovesen

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Objective: To determine the vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D; S-25OHD) in adolescent girls and elderly community-dwelling women living in four countries of northern Europe and to explain differences in S-25OHD concentrations between and within the countries. Design: A cross-sectional observational study conducted in a standardised way during February-March. S-25OHD was analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography. Vitamin D and calcium intake was calculated using a standardised food composition database. Setting: Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and Poland. Subjects: A total of 199 girls (mean (s.d.) age 12.6 (0.5) y) and 221 women (mean (s.d.) age 71.8 (1.4) y). Results: The median ( inter quartiles) concentration of S-25OHD was 29.4 (20.3, 38.3) nmol/l for the girls and 40.7 (28.0, 54.2) nmol/l for the women. S-25OHD below 25 nmol/l was found in 37% of the girls and 17% of the women, and S-25OHD below 50 nmol/l was found in 92% of the girls and 37% of the women. Positive significant determinants for S-25OHD in girls were use of vitamin D supplements, and in women sun habits, dietary vitamin D intake, use of vitamin D and calcium supplements. Body mass index and smoking were negative determinants in women. For women predictors could explain the differences between countries (P-country=0.09, R-2=0.39), but for girls the difference remained significant even after including predictors (P-country=0.03, R-2=0.15). Conclusion: Vitamin D status is low in northern Europe during winter. More than one-third of the adolescent girls have vitamin D status below 25 nmol/l and almost all are below 50 nmol/l. Two-thirds of the elderly community-dwelling women have vitamin D status below 50 nmol/l. Use of vitamin D supplements is a significant positive determinant for S-25OHD for both girls and women (P=0.001). Sponsorship: The European Fifth Framework Programme (Contract No. QLK1-CT-2000-00623).
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)533-541
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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