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Obes Surg. 2008 Feb;18(2):145-50. doi: 10.1007/s11695-007-9315-8. Epub 2008 Jan 4.

Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency in morbidly obese patients: a comparison with non-obese controls.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-3020, USA.



Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients after bariatric surgery. However, obesity itself has also been associated with decreased vitamin D. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in obese persons has not previously been compared to non-obese controls when controlling for factors that could affect vitamin D status.


We evaluated 25 hydroxy vitamin D, iPTH, calcium, albumin, and creatinine in 41 patients undergoing Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. We then compared them to healthy non-obese controls matched for age, sex, race/ethnicity, and season of vitamin D measurement.


Ninety percent of the pre-bariatric surgery patients had 25-OH-D levels <75 nmol/l, and 61% had 25-OH-D levels <50 nmol/l versus 32 and 12% in controls, respectively. Additionally, 49% of the pre-bariatric surgery patients had secondary hyperparathyroidism versus 2% of controls. These differences persisted after controlling for sunlight exposure and dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D. Mean calcium, corrected for albumin, and creatinine were not significantly different between the groups, but mean albumin levels were significantly lower among surgery patients.


Vitamin D deficiency is common in obese patients at the time of bariatric surgery and is also accompanied by secondary hyperparathyroidism approximately half the time. These findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency after bariatric surgery is multifactorial and in part caused by preoperative vitamin D deficiency rather than postoperative malabsorption alone. In this study, increased vitamin D deficiency in obese persons cannot be explained by a difference in calcium/vitamin D intake or sunlight exposure.

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