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Isr Med Assoc J. 2001 Jun;3(6):419-21.

Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish mothers in Israel.

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Bone Disease Unit, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Israel.



The modest clothing that Orthodox Jewish women wear exposes very little of their skin to sunlight. Under these conditions they may develop vitamin D deficiency, even in sunny Israel.


To determine and compare the vitamin D nutritional status in Jewish orthodox mothers to that of non-orthodox mothers who live in the same metropolitan area in Israel.


25-Hydroxyvitamin D was measured by competitive protein-binding radioassay in the sera of 341 Jewish Israeli mothers (156 orthodox and 185 non-orthodox). The sera were obtained 48-72 hours after childbirth during the late summer of 1998 and the spring of 1999.


The mean (SD) serum concentration of 25-OHD was significantly (P < 0.002) lower (13.5 +/- 7.5 ng/ml) in the orthodox than in the non-orthodox mothers (18.6 +/- 9.6 ng/ml). Vitamin D deficiency (< 5 ng/ml) and insufficiency (< 10 ng/ml) were more common in the orthodox mothers (5.1% and 32.7% respectively) than in the non-orthodox mothers (2.7% and 13%, respectively). In subgroups of mothers supplemented with 400 units of vitamin D daily during pregnancy, vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency were less common (2.2% and 13%, respectively) in orthodox and non-orthodox mothers (0% and 8.1%, respectively). Vitamin D insufficiency was more common in the winter than in the summer only among non-orthodox mothers.


The high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in Israeli mothers raises the question whether vitamin D supplements should be given to pregnant women in Israel, at least to orthodox mothers.

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