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Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jan;95(1):137-46. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.018721. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Demographic, dietary, and biochemical determinants of vitamin D status in inner-city children.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8064, USA.



Reports of clinical rickets are particularly evident in minority infants and children, but only limited analyses of vitamin D are available in this demographic group.


We sought to characterize circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)(2)D], and their determinants, including circulating parathyroid hormone (PTH), total alkaline phosphatase activity (ALP), calcium, and phosphorus, in minority infants and children.


We obtained demographic information and blood samples for measurement of PTH, ALP, 25(OH)D, and 1,25(OH)(2)D in >750 6-mo- to 3-y-old children. Dietary intake data were obtained and analyzed.


The mean (±SD) 25(OH)D concentration was 66 ± 22 nmol/L (26.3 ± 8.7 ng/dL). A total of 15% of children had 25(OH)D concentrations less than the recommended target threshold of 50 nmol/L. Combined elevations of PTH and ALP occurred in only 2.5% of children. Determinants of 25(OH)D included vitamin D intake, age (decreasing with age), skin type (greater concentrations in lighter-skinned children than in darker-skinned children), formula use (higher intakes), season (greater concentrations in the summer and fall than in the winter and spring), and, inversely, PTH. The mean 1,25(OH)(2)D concentration was 158 ± 58 pmol/L (60.6 ± 22.5 pg/mL), which was consistent with a reference range of 41-274 pmol/L or 15.7-105.5 pg/mL. Determinants for 1,25(OH)(2)D were age (decreasing with age), sex (greater concentrations in girls than in boys), skin type (greater concentrations in lighter-skinned children than in darker-skinned children), and, inversely, serum calcium and phosphorus.


Although 15% of subjects were vitamin D insufficient, only 2.5% of subjects had elevations of both PTH and ALP. The greater 25(OH)D concentrations observed with formula use confirm that dietary vitamin D fortification is effective in this demographic group. Circulating 1,25(OH)(2)D is higher in infants than in older children and adults and, in contrast to 25(OH)D, is not directly correlated with nutrient intakes.

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