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Nutrients. 2012 May;4(5):399-412. doi: 10.3390/nu4050399. Epub 2012 May 24.

Vitamin D and musculoskeletal status in Nova Scotian women who wear concealing clothing.

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School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.


Bone and muscle weakness due to vitamin D deficiency is common among Muslim women who reside in sunny, equatorial countries. The purpose of this study was to determine if living in a northern maritime location additionally disadvantages women who wear concealing clothes. A cross-sectional matched pair design was used to compare women who habitually wore concealing clothing with women who dressed according to western norms. Each premenopausal hijab-wearing woman (n = 11) was matched by age, height, weight and skin tone with a western-dressed woman. Subjects were tested by hand grip dynamometry to assess muscular strength and by quantitative ultrasound at the calcaneus to assess bone status. Nutritional intake was obtained by 24 h recall. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (s-25(OH)D) status was determined in seven matched pairs. The hijab group had lower s-25(OH)D than women who wore western clothes (40 ± 28 vs. 81 ± 32 nmol/L, p= 0.01). Grip strength in the right hand was lower in the hijab-wearing women (p = 0.05) but this appeared to be due to less participation in intense exercise. Bone status did not differ between groups (p= 0.9). Dietary intake of vitamin D was lower in the hijab-wearers (316 ± 353 vs. 601 ± 341 IU/day, p= 0.001). This pilot study suggests that women living in a northern maritime location appear to be at risk for vitamin D insufficiency and therefore should consider taking vitamin D supplements.


Muslim; bone status; clothing; diet; hijab; muscle strength; northern latitude; vitamin D; vitamin D deficiency; women

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