Higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is associated with immigrant background among children and adolescents in Germany

J Nutr. 2008 Aug;138(8):1482-90. doi: 10.1093/jn/138.8.1482.


In recent years, a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among children and adolescents has been reported in countries with moderate climates. Those with an immigrant background living under these conditions are at especially high risk. To date, representative data in Germany is lacking. We analyzed 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations of 10,015 children and adolescents, aged 1-17 y, who participated in the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents. The proportion of immigrants was 25.4%, corresponding well to their percentage of the population. Among 3- to 17-y-old participants, 29% of immigrant boys and 31% of immigrant girls had 25(OH)D concentrations <25 nmol/L (severe to moderate vitamin D deficiency) compared with 18% of nonimmigrant boys and 17% of nonimmigrant girls. Furthermore, 92% of immigrant boys and 94% of immigrant girls had 25(OH)D concentrations <75 nmol/L (levels above 75 nmol/L are defined as optimal regarding various health outcomes) compared with 87% of nonimmigrants. Boys with a Turkish or Arab-Islamic background had an increased risk of having 25(OH)D concentrations <25 nmol/L compared with nonimmigrants (odds ratio [OR] 2.3; [95% CI] 1.4-3.8 and OR 7.6; [95% CI] 3.0-19.1). The same was true for girls with a Turkish (OR 5.2; [95% CI] 2.9-9.6), Arab-Islamic (OR 5.9; [95% CI] 2.5-14.0), Asian (OR 6.7; [95% CI] 2.2-19.8), or African (OR 7.8; [95% CI] 1.5-40.8) background. Supplementation of vitamin D beyond infancy, especially in high-risk groups, or fortification of food should be considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / ethnology


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D