Background: We previously found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and low medication regimen compliance in Arab and East Indian women residing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The appropriate dosing regimen for improving vitamin D status in this population is not known.
Objective: We aimed to determine the efficacy of daily and monthly supplementation with vitamin D2, the only high-dose calciferol available in the UAE, in lactating and nulliparous women.
Design: Healthy lactating (n = 90) and nulliparous (n = 88) women were randomly assigned to consume 2000 IU vitamin D2/d or 60,000 IU vitamin D2/mo for 3 mo. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay at baseline and every month.
Results: Most women had vitamin D deficiency [ie, 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/L] at study entry. Mean +/- SD 25(OH)D concentrations at 3 mo were significantly higher than baseline in both lactating (39.8 +/- 12.4 and 25.2 +/- 10.7 nmol/L, respectively) and nulliparous (40.4 +/- 23.4 and 19.3 +/- 12.2 nmol/L, respectively) women (P < 0.001 for both). In total, vitamin D supplementation was effective in achieving serum 25(OH)D concentrations of >or=50 nmol/L in 21 (30%) of 71 women at endpoint.
Conclusions: Oral vitamin D2 supplementation with 2000 IU/d or 60,000 IU/mo for 3 mo was safe, and it increased serum 25(OH)D concentrations significantly; however, only a small proportion of the women studied achieved concentrations of >or=50 nmol/L. This suggests that, when sunlight exposure is limited, doses of vitamin D2 higher than those currently studied may be needed. Monthly dosing appears to be a safe and effective alternative to daily dosing.