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Eur J Nutr. 2018 Jul 18. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1775-1. [Epub ahead of print]

Differences in the dietary requirement for vitamin D among Caucasian and East African women at Northern latitude.

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School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Cork Centre for Vitamin D and Nutrition Research, Cork, Ireland.
Department of Medicine, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.
Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg C, Denmark.
Calcium Research Unit, Department of Food and Nutrition, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Cork Centre for Vitamin D and Nutrition Research, Cork, Ireland.
Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research [INFANT], University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.



Current vitamin D recommendations have been established based on an assumption that there are no differences between Caucasian and other ethnic/racial groups in terms of vitamin D requirements. This assumption, largely made due to the absence of data, is a key knowledge gap identified by a number of authorities.


To test whether the distribution of dietary requirements for maintaining winter serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations ≥ 30 nmol/L (a priority threshold linked to vitamin D deficiency prevention) differ between Caucasian and Somali women living at northerly latitude.


We used data from a 5-month, winter-based, vitamin D3 dose-related randomized, placebo-controlled trial in Somali (n 47) and Causcian women (n 69), aged 21-64-year old, living in Southern Finland (60°N), to model the vitamin D intake-serum 25(OH)D dose-response relationship. Regression analyses were used to predict the vitamin D intake required to maintain 97.5% (as well as 50, 90, and 95%) of women in both ethnic groups above serum 25(OH)D thresholds of 30, 40 and 50 nmol/L.


Using a model which adjusted for baseline 25(OH)D, age, and BMI, the estimated vitamin D intake that maintained serum 25(OH)D ≥ 30 nmol/L in 97.5% of Caucasian and Somali women was 8 and 18 µg/day, respectively. Ethnic differences were also evident at 40 and 50 nmol/L serum 25(OH)D thresholds.


The present study adds further evidence that ethnic differences in the dietary requirement for vitamin D do exist and that dose-response vitamin D intervention studies are required in at-risk target populations specified by ethnicity.


Dietary reference values; Ethnic-related differences; RCT; Vitamin D requirements


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