Background/objectives: Vitamin D deficiency, a risk factor for osteomalacia and osteoporosis, is a re-emerging health problem globally. While sunlight is an important vitamin D source, previous investigations among women whose culture encourages skin covering have been small, not nationally representative, or both. We investigated serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D(3)) status and factors associated with deficiency in a nationally representative survey of 2013 Jordanian women of reproductive age in Spring 2010.
Subjects/methods: We measured 25(OH)D(3) concentrations by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and calculated prevalence ratios for deficiency associated with skin covering and other factors.
Results: Results showed 60.3% (95% CI: 57.1-63.4%) deficiency (<12 ng/ml) and 95.7% (95% CI: 94.4-96.8%) insufficiency (<20 ng/ml) among women. Prevalence of deficiency was 1.60 times higher for women who covered with a scarf/hijab (95% CI: 1.06-2.40, P = 0.024) and 1.87 times higher for women who wore full cover, or a niqab (95% CI: 1.20-2.93, P = 0.006), compared with the women who did not wear a scarf/hijab or niqab. Compared with rural women completing at least secondary education, prevalence of deficiency was 1.30 times higher for urban women of the same education level (95% CI: 1.08-1.57, P = 0.006), 1.18 times higher for urban women completing less than secondary education (95% CI: 0.98-1.43, P = 0.09), and 0.66 times lower for rural women completing less than secondary education (95% CI: 0.52-0.84, P = 0.001).
Conclusion: Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency pose significant public health problems in Jordanian women. Prevalence of deficiency is significantly higher among urban women and among women who cover with a scarf/hijab or niqab.