Summary: This is the first 1-year longitudinal study which assesses vitamin D deficiency in young UK-dwelling South Asian women. The findings are that vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in this group of women and that it persists all year around, representing a significant public health concern.
Introduction: There is a lack of longitudinal data assessing seasonal variation in vitamin D status in young South Asian women living in northern latitudes. Studies of postmenopausal South Asian women suggest a lack of seasonal change in 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D], although it is unclear whether this is prevalent among premenopausal South Asians. We aimed to evaluate, longitudinally, seasonal changes in 25(OH)D and prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in young UK-dwelling South Asian women as compared with Caucasians. We also aimed to establish the relative contributions of dietary vitamin D and sun exposure in explaining serum 25(OH)D.
Methods: This is a 1-year prospective cohort study assessing South Asian (n = 35) and Caucasian (n = 105) premenopausal women living in Surrey, UK (51° N), aged 20-55 years. The main outcome measured was serum 25(OH)D concentration. Secondary outcomes were serum parathyroid hormone, self-reported dietary vitamin D intake and UVB exposure by personal dosimetry.
Results: Serum 25(OH)D <25 nmol/L was highly prevalent in South Asians in the winter (81 %) and autumn (79.2 %). Deficient status (below 50 nmol/L) was common in Caucasian women. Multi-level modelling suggested that, in comparison to sun exposure (1.59, 95 %CI = 0.83-2.35), dietary intake of vitamin D had no impact on 25(OH)D levels (-0.08, 95 %CI = -1.39 to 1.23).
Conclusions: Year-round vitamin D deficiency was extremely common in South Asian women. These findings pose great health threats regarding the adverse effects of vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy and warrant urgent vitamin D public health policy and action.