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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;70(3):373-9. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.176. Epub 2015 Oct 28.

Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its association with nutrition, travelling and clothing habits in an immigrant population in Northern Sweden.

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Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Family Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Geriatric Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Department of Statistics, Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.



To study prevalence and determinants of vitamin D deficiency in immigrants from Africa and the Middle East living in Umeå, Sweden.


Cross-sectional population based.


Umeå, Sweden (63° N).


Immigrants aged 25-65 years from nine countries in Africa or the Middle East (n=1306) were invited. A total of 111 men and 106 women (16.5%) completed the study. S-25-hydroxyvitamin D3 was measured with HPLC. Anthropometry, medical, socioeconomic and lifestyle data were registered.


Vitamin D status was insufficient or deficient in 73% of the participants. Specifically, 12% had vitamin D deficiency (25(OH)D3<25 nmol/l), and only 3.7% had optimal vitamin D status (25(OH)D3 75-125 nmol/l). Mean 25(OH)D3 level was 41.0 nmol/l (± 16.6) with no difference between sexes. Levels of 25(OH)D3 were lower (P=0.030) and vitamin D deficiency was twice as common in immigrants from Africa compared with those from the Middle East. In the multiple regression analysis, vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with low fatty fish intake (OR 4.31, 95% CI 1.61-11.55), not travelling abroad (OR 3.76, 95% CI 1.18-11.96) and wearing long-sleeved clothes in summer (OR 3.15, 95% CI 1.09-9.12).


The majority of immigrants from Africa and the Middle East who live in northern Sweden have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Our results are consistent with sun exposure and a diet with high intake of fatty fish being most important in avoiding vitamin D deficiency.

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