Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to several chronic diseases in adults. Studies focusing on children and adolescents, however, are limited. In this randomized cross-sectional study, we aimed to determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its relationship with childhood obesity and dietary calcium intake among a population of healthy urban Saudi children and adolescents. To achieve this, 331 randomly selected Saudi children (53.8% females and 46.2% males) aged 6-17 years were included. Demographic, medical, and dietary information were collected; anthropometrics were measured. Levels of serum fasting glucose, lipid profile, 25(OH) D, and for albumin corrected calcium were analyzed. Vitamin D deficiency was noted in all subjects, with girls having significantly lower vitamin D levels than boys. Mean calcium intake was found to be 60% of the required dietary allowance (RDA), while the mean vitamin D intake was 23% of RDA. Vitamin D status and calcium intake were comparable in both normal and overweight/obese children and adolescents. Vitamin D status was highest among children who had calcium intake >800 mg/day. In adolescents there was insignificant but decreasing trend in BMI, which was observed to be highest among those whose calcium intake was <250 mg/day and lowest among those taking >800 mg/day.
Conclusion: results from this study suggest the importance of vitamin D fortification and increased dietary calcium in the Saudi diet to meet RDA requirements and avoid onset of vitamin D deficiency-related diseases in Saudi children and adolescents.