Vitamin D levels in prepubertal children in Southern Tasmania: prevalence and determinants

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Oct;53(10):824-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1600858.


Objective: To describe the prevalence and determinants of 25-hydroxy D3(25(OH)D) in children.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Southern Tasmania between June and November 1997.

Subjects: Two hundred and one 8-y old male and female children taking part in a cohort study whose principal endpoints were blood pressure and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Results: The mean 25(OH)D level was 79 nmol/l (s.d. 29.5, median 73, range 12-222). Boys had higher levels than girls (82.1 vs 72.8 nmol/l, P=0.02). 25(OH)D was associated with sunlight exposure in winter school holidays (r=0.20, P=0.005) and winter weekends (r=0.16, P=0.02), the month after school holidays (87.5 vs 69.5 nmol, P<0.0001) and body mass index (r=-0.23, P=0.001). Dietary intake of vitamin D was low (mean 40 IU/day, range 5.2-384) and was not associated with 25(OH)D levels (r=0.01, P=0.91). Variation in skin melanin density was weakly associated with 25(OH)D (r=0.09, P=0.19).

Conclusions: Sunlight is the major determinant of vitamin D stores in our population. Neither variation in skin type within Caucasians nor diet modified this association to any significant extent. Extrapolation of these findings to sunlight bone mass associations in a very similar population suggests that a minimum level of around 50 nmol/l in the population is required for optimal bone development in prepubertal children but this needs to be confirmed with further controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation and bone mass.

Sponsorship: Arthritis Foundation of Australia, Roche Pharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Calcifediol / blood*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Puberty
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Sunlight
  • Tasmania
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage


  • Vitamin D
  • Calcifediol