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Public Health Nutr. 2012 Nov;15(11):2047-53. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012003217. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Vitamin D intake and serum vitamin D in ethnically diverse urban schoolchildren.

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Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.



Low serum vitamin D, which largely affects ethnic minorities, is associated with obesity and other chronic diseases. Little is known about racial/ethnic differences in intake, particularly in children, or if any differences are associated with differences in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D). The objective of the present study was to determine whether racial/ethnic differences in dietary vitamin D intake exist and whether they explain differences in 25(OH)D.


Vitamin D intakes (Block Kids 2004 FFQ) and 25(OH)D were measured. Race/ethnicity was parent-reported (white (37·9 %), Hispanic (32·4 %), black (8·3 %), Asian (10·3 %), multi-racial/other (11·0 %)). Multivariable analyses were conducted to examine the associations among dietary vitamin D and race/ethnicity, as well as 25(OH)D, independent of BMI Z-score and other covariates.


Elementary/middle schools in Somerville, MA, USA, during January-April 2010.


Schoolchildren (n 145) in 4th-8th grade.


Only 2·1 % met the 2011 RDA (15 μg/d (600 IU/d)). Average dietary intake was 3.5 (sd 2.2) μg/d (140 (sd 89·0) IU/d). No racial/ethnic differences in intake were evident. Most (83·4 %) were 25(OH)D deficient (<20 ng/ml; 16·0 (sd 6·5) ng/ml). In ANOVA post hoc analyses, 25(OH)D levels were lower in Hispanics than whites (14·6 (sd 6·1) ng/ml v. 17·9 (sd 4·6) ng/ml; P < 0·01). Dietary vitamin D was associated with 25(OH)D overall (P < 0·05), but did not explain the racial/ethnic differences in 25(OH)D.


Most children in this north-east US sample did not meet dietary recommendations for vitamin D and were vitamin D deficient. Dietary vitamin D did not explain the difference in 25(OH)D between Hispanic and white children. Further research is needed to determine if changes in dietary vitamin D by race/ethnicity can impact 25(OH)D levels.

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