Increasing trends and significance of hypovitaminosis D: a population-based study in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Archives of Osteoporosis, September 2014, 9:190, Date: 12 Sep 2014
Aneela N. Hussain, Abdullah Hamad Alkhenizan, Mohammad El Shaker, Hussein Raef, Alia Gabr
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Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in Saudi Arabia, particularly among young women and is emerging as public health threat of epidemic proportions. Prevalence of severe hypovitaminosis D is expected to rise exponentially without primary intervention. This largest study encompasses extent of vitamin D deficiency and recommendations to reduce significant health care burden.
The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence and significance of vitamin D deficiency in Saudi population and to help develop national consensus for its prevention, screening, and management.
This was a retrospective observational study which involved 10,709 patients, recruited from the Department of Family Medicine and Polyclinic, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center (KFSH&RC), Saudi Arabia, over a period of 5 years. The endpoints included overall status of vitamin D level and severity of vitamin D deficiency. Serum measurements included 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), parathormone, calcium, phosphate, alkaline phosphatase, albumin levels, eGFR levels, bone mineral density.
A total of 10,709 patients were analyzed; 31.4 % were males and 68.6 % were females, with a preponderance of Saudis (68.5 %) compared to non-Saudis (31.5 %). The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was 83.6 % (31.9 % severe, 32.0 % moderate, and 19.7 % mild), when cut points of less than 25, 50, and 75 nmol/l, respectively, were used. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 44.58 ± 34.80 standard deviation (SD) nmol/l. There was significant difference in severity of vitamin D deficiency stratified by age, gender, and nationality. More females had severe 25(OH)D deficiency compared to males (35.6 vs. 23.7 %, p < 0.000). Severe 25(OH)D deficiency was markedly high among adolescents as compared to other age groups (49.2 vs. 30.9 %, p < 0.000). More Saudis were found to be vitamin D deficient compared to non-Saudis (37.2 vs. 20.3 %, p < 0.000).
The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D is significantly high among Saudi population, especially among women, despite abundant sunshine. It is a major public health concern and requires a robust health policy for vitamin D supplementation and implementation of dietary public health measures. Vitamin D screening is strongly recommended at an earlier age especially among women and children.