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Recent study finds low prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in South America

Posted on: July 26, 2017   by  Vitamin D Council


A recent study published by Public Health Nutrition discovered a very low prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in nine South American countries.

Researchers compared the vitamin D status of individuals in South America to sociodemographics and lifestyle behaviors including diet, exercise and time spent outdoors. A total of children and 492 parents from the capital cities of Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panamá, Belize, and Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Mexico were included in the analysis. The researchers defined vitamin D deficiency as levels less than 20 ng/ml.

This is what the researchers discovered:

  • Average 25(OH)D concentrations in adults and children were 32.5 and 31.8 ng/ml, respectively.
  • Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was 3.9 % among adults and 3·6 % among children.
  • In adults, average vitamin D levels were highest in Nicaragua (P < 0·0001).
  • Vitamin D status was positively associated with time spent gardening in adults (P = 0·03).
  • Children’s 25(OH)D concentrations were higher in males (P = 0·005) and positively associated with dairy intake (P=0.03) and mother’s serum 25(OH)D concentrations (P < 0·0001);
  • Vitamin D status in children was inversely associated with mother’s BMI (P = 0.02) and socioeconomic status (P = 0.04).

The researchers concluded:

“Vitamin D deficiency prevalence was low in this study. Sociodemographic characteristics, diet and outdoor activity predict serum 25(OH)D.”

Robinson, SL. et al. Correlates and family aggregation of vitamin D concentrations in school-aged children and their parents in nine Mesoamerican countries.  Public Health Nutrition, 2017.

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