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Prevalence and predictors of vitamin D deficiency in five immigrant groups living in Oslo, Norway: the Oslo Immigrant Health Study


Objective: To study the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and to identify possible predictors of vitamin D deficiency in five main immigrant groups in Oslo.

Design: Cross-sectional, population-based.

Setting: City of Oslo.

Subjects: In total, 491 men and 509 women with native countries Turkey, Sri Lanka, Iran, Pakistan and Vietnam living in the county of Oslo.

Results: Median serum 25(OH)D level (s-25(OH)D) was 28 nmol/l, ranging from 21 nmol/l in women born in Pakistan to 40 nmol/l in men born in Vietnam. Overall prevalence of vitamin D deficiency defined as s-25(OH)D<25 nmol/l was 37.2%, ranging from 8.5% in men born in Vietnam to 64.9% in women born in Pakistan. s-25(OH)D did not vary significantly with age. s-25(OH)D was higher in blood samples drawn in June compared to samples obtained in April, but not significantly for women. Reported use of fatty fish and cod liver oil supplements showed a strong positive association with s-25(OH)D in all groups. Education length was positively associated with s-25(OH)D in women, whereas body mass index (BMI) was inversely associated with s-25(OH)D in women. These two variables were not related to vitamin D deficiency in men.

Conclusions: There is widespread vitamin D deficiency in both men and women born in Turkey, Sri Lanka, Iran, Pakistan and Vietnam residing in Oslo. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is higher in women than in men, and it is higher in those born in Pakistan and lower in those born in Vietnam compared to the other ethnic groups. Fatty fish intake and cod liver oil supplements are important determinant factors of vitamin D status in the groups studied. BMI and education length are also important predictors in women.

Sponsorship: Supported by the Directorate for Health and Social Affairs, Oslo, and Research Forum, Aker University Hospital, Oslo.

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The data collection was conducted as part of the Oslo Immigrant Health Study carried out in 2002 as a collaboration between the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the University of Oslo.

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Correspondence to K Holvik.

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Guarantor: K Holvik.

Contributors: KH performed the data analysis and prepared the manuscript with HM, who was also a responsible organizer of the Oslo Immigrant Health Study. EH was responsible for the blood sample analyses. LB initiated the vitamin D substudy, and contributed to the design of the paper. All coauthors have critically revised and approved the manuscript.

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Holvik, K., Meyer, H., Haug, E. et al. Prevalence and predictors of vitamin D deficiency in five immigrant groups living in Oslo, Norway: the Oslo Immigrant Health Study. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 57–63 (2005).

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  • vitamin D deficiency
  • immigrants
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D

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