Variation in vitamin D supplementation among adults in a multi-race/ethnic health plan population, 2008

Nutr J. 2012 Dec 11:11:104. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-104.


Background: Vitamin D may have a role in many chronic conditions in addition to bone health. Nutritional surveys among Americans have reported high levels of vitamin D insufficiency, especially among Blacks and Latinos. Our study examined variation in vitamin D supplementation practices in an adult health plan population by age, gender, and race-ethnicity.

Methods: Self-report data from a 2008 general health survey in a large Northern California health plan were used to characterize number and types of sources of vitamin D supplementation (multivitamin, calcium with D, singular D) among women and men aged 25-85, overall, by race-ethnicity, and for obese, diabetic, and hypertensive subgroups.

Results: In this population, 40% of women and 54% of men ≤ 50, and 24% of women and 53% of men aged 51-85 get no vitamin D from dietary supplements. Higher vitamin D supplementation among women > 50 is associated with higher reported intake of calcium with D. Black and Latina women aged 25-85 and Filipinas in the ≤ 50 age group were significantly less likely than non-Hispanic Whites to get vitamin D from supplements, whereas vitamin D supplementation practices among Chinese women did not significantly differ from non-Hispanic Whites. Among men, Latinos aged 25-85 and Black and Chinese ≤ 50 were significantly less likely than non-Hispanic Whites to get vitamin D from supplements. Similar race-ethnic differences in vitamin D supplementation patterns were observed for people in the obese, diabetic, and hypertensive groups.

Conclusions: Our survey results suggest that in 2008, a large percentage of women and an even larger percentage of men in a large Northern California health plan get no vitamin D from dietary supplements, and that Blacks and Latinos and obese adults, who are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, are also the least likely to get any vitamin D from dietary supplements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • California / epidemiology
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • White People / statistics & numerical data


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D