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J Bone Miner Res. 2000 Sep;15(9):1856-62.

Hypovitaminosis D in a sunny country: relation to lifestyle and bone markers.

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Department of Endocrinology, Saint Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon.


Hypovitaminosis D is associated with poor dietary intake and inadequate sunshine exposure. It is common worldwide, particularly in European elderly people. Information about vitamin D status in young adult populations from the Middle East is scarce. Furthermore, the relationship between hypovitaminosis D and some lifestyle factors such as style of clothing and dwelling location is not well defined. We assessed vitamin D intake and measured serum calcium, phosphorus, albumin, alkaline phosphatase, 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], parathyroid hormone (PTH), osteocalcin, and urinary-free deoxypyridinoline (DPD) in 316 Lebanese volunteers (99 men and 217 women) aged 30-50 years; 156 were recruited from rural areas and 160 from urban areas. Fifty-one women from each area were veiled. The average daily vitamin D intake was 100.3 +/- 67.9 IU and was found to be higher in men compared with women, in urban subjects compared with rural ones and in nonveiled women compared with veiled ones. The mean level of 25(OH)D was 9.71 +/- 7.07 ng/ml. Hypovitaminosis D [25(OH)D < 12 ng/ml] affected 72.8% of our population. It was more common in women than in men (83.9% vs. 48.5%). Severe hypovitaminosis D [25(OH)D < 5 ng/ml] was observed in 30.7% of our subjects and was more prevalent in women (41.5%), particularly in the veiled ones (61.8%). 25(OH)D levels were the lowest in veiled women, and in women living in rural areas. Rural men had the highest 25(OH)D levels despite their very low vitamin D intake. In a multivariate model, inadequate vitamin D intake, urban dwelling, veil wearing, and high parity in women were independent predictors of hypovitaminosis D. 25(OH)D was related inversely to PTH and free DPD whereas osteocalcin achieved only a weak positive correlation with 25(OH)D. In the absence of information regarding time spent outdoors, our results show that hypovitaminosis D is common among young Lebanese people and is related mostly to low vitamin D intake. This should emphasize the need for more vitamin D in our population.

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