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Most immigrant women in Sweden had little vitamin D and lots of muscle pain – May 2013

Vitamin D intake and status in immigrant and native Swedish women: a study at a primary health care centre located at 60oN in Sweden

Food & Nutrition Research eISSN 1654-661X
Åsa Andersson, Anne Björk, Per Kristiansson, Gunnar Johansson

Background: Immigration to Sweden from lower latitude countries has increased in recent years. Studies in the general population in other Nordic countries have demonstrated that these groups are at risk of developing vitamin D deficiency, but studies in primary health care patients are rare.

Objectives: The aim of this study is to examine possible differences in plasma-25(OH)-vitamin D levels and intake of vitamin D between Swedish and immigrant female patients in a primary health care centre located at 60o N, where half of the inhabitants have an immigrant background. Another objective was to estimate what foods contribute with most vitamin D.

Design: Thirty-one female patients from the Middle East and Africa and 30 from Sweden were recruited. P-25(OH)D was measured and intake of vitamin D was estimated with a modified food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).

Results: Vitamin D deficiency (plasma-25(OH)D< 25 nmol/L) was common among immigrant women (61%). One immigrant woman and half of the Swedish women had optimal levels (plasma-25(OH)D >50 nmol/L). There was a positive correlation between the intake of vitamin D from food and plasma-25(OH)D. Only three women, all Swedish, reached the recommended intake of vitamin D from food. The immigrant women had lower intake compared to Swedish women (median: 3.1 vs. 5.1 μg/day). The foods that contributed with most vitamin D were fatty fish, fortified milk and margarine. Immigrant women consumed less fortified milk and margarine but more meat. Irrespective of origin, patients with plasma-25(OH)D <25 nmol/L consumed less margarine but more meat.

Conclusion: Vitamin D deficiency was common in the immigrant patients and their intake of vitamin D was lower. This highlights the need to target information about vitamin D to immigrant women in order to decrease the risk for vitamin D deficiency. The FFQ was well adapted to its purpose to estimate intake of vitamin D.

See also VitaminDWiki