Prevalence and impact of vitamin D insufficiency in southern Chinese adults

Ann Nutr Metab. 2007;51(1):59-64. doi: 10.1159/000100822. Epub 2007 Mar 15.


Introduction: Vitamin D is a vital element for bone health but the problem of vitamin D deficiency is underestimated in Hong Kong.

Methods: Serum 25(OH)D and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels were evaluated in 382 community dwelling Chinese adults >50 years for their relation with bone mineral density (BMD) and risks of osteoporotic fractures and falls.

Results: The mean age of the subjects was 69 +/- 9 years. The mean 25(OH)D level was 28.3 +/- 10.8 ng/ml with 62.8% of the subjects having levels <30 ng/ml. 6.3% of the subjects had elevated PTH levels. A curvilinear relation between serum PTH and 25(OH)D was found, with PTH starting to increase when 25(OH)D level fell below 30 ng/ml (r = -0.233, p < 0.05). Although subjects with vitamin D <30 ng/ml had significantly lower BMD, only sex, age and PTH but not 25(OH)D were predictors of BMD at the spine and hip. Subjects with elevated PTH levels had a 2.92-fold increased risk of falls and 2.94-fold increased risk of fractures at the hip and spine.

Conclusions: Vitamin D insufficiency and its complication of secondary hyperparathyroidism is common even in subtropical region and is an important risk factor for low bone mass, falls and fractures.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Density
  • China
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / etiology
  • Fractures, Bone / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / complications
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Prevalence
  • Sterols / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*


  • PTH protein, human
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Sterols