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Osteoporos Int. 2004 Jan;15(1):56-61. Epub 2003 Sep 12.

Vitamin D status and its relationship with bone mineral density in healthy Asian Indians.

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Department of Endocrinology, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rae Bareli Road, 226014, Lucknow, India.


Synthesis of vitamin D takes place in the skin under the effect of sunlight. The Indian subcontinent is situated between 8.4 degrees N and 37.6 degrees N latitudes and has adequate sunshine throughout the year. Thus, it has been presumed that Indians are vitamin D sufficient. We measured serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] ( n=92) and 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D [1, 25(OH)(2)D] ( n=65) levels in healthy hospital staff, using (125)I radioimmunoassay. Serum intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentration was estimated by immunoradiometric assay. Bone mineral density was estimated using a dual energy X-ray absorptiometer (Hologic QDR 4500A). Using a serum 25(OH)D level of 15 ng/ml as a cutoff, 66.3% (61/92) of the subjects were found to be vitamin D deficient. Of these, 20.6% (19/92) subjects had severe vitamin D deficiency (<5 ng/ml), 27.2% (25/92) had moderate vitamin D deficiency (5-9.9 ng/ml), while 18.5% (17/92) had mild vitamin D deficiency (10-14.9 ng/ml). When a serum 25(OH)D level of 20 ng/ml was used as a cutoff, 78.3% subjects were diagnosed to be vitamin D deficient/insufficient. The serum 1,25(OH)(2)D level was within the normal range (40.6+/-20.1 pg/ml; mean +/- SD). Mean (+/-SD) serum intact PTH, estimated in a limited number of subjects (n=15), was 72.3 (+/-21.0) pg/ml (range 36-100 pg/ml). There was a significant correlation between daily sun exposure and 25(OH)D levels (r=0.731, P<0.001). The serum 25(OH)D level correlated with BMD at the femoral neck and Ward's triangle (r=0.50, P=0.020 and r=0.46, P=0.037, respectively). Our findings show that vitamin D deficiency is common in urban north Indian hospital staff. The possible reasons include inadequate sunlight exposure and skin pigmentation in Indians. The serum 1,25(OH)(2)D level is not a good indicator of vitamin D deficiency. A low serum 25(OH)D level is possibly one of the reasons for lower bone mineral density among Indians.

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