Vitamin D insufficiency and bone mineral status in a population of newcomer children in Canada

Nutrients. 2013 May 14;5(5):1561-72. doi: 10.3390/nu5051561.


Background: Low levels of circulating vitamin D are more likely to be found in those with darker skin pigmentation, who live in areas of high latitude, and who wear more clothing. We examined the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and inadequacy in newcomer immigrant and refugee children.

Methods: We evaluated circulating vitamin D status of immigrant children at the national level. Subsequently, we investigated vitamin D intake, circulating vitamin D status, and total body bone mineral content (TBBMC) in newcomer children living in Saskatchewan.

Results: In the sample of newcomer children in Saskatchewan, the prevalence of inadequacy in calcium and vitamin D intakes was 76% and 89.4%, respectively. Vitamin D intake from food/supplement was significantly higher in immigrants compared to refugees, which accords with the significant difference in serum status. Circulating vitamin D status indicated that 29% of participants were deficient and another 44% had inadequate levels of serum 25(OH)D for bone health. Dietary vitamin D intake, sex, region of origin, and length of stay in Canada were significant predictors of serum vitamin D status. RESULTS for TBBMC revealed that 38.6% were found to have low TBBMC compared to estimated values for age, sex, and ethnicity. In the regression model, after controlling for possible confounders, children who were taller and had greater circulating vitamin D also had greater TBBMC. Nationally, immigrant children, particularly girls, have significantly lower plasma 25(OH)D than non-immigrant children.

Interpretation: Newcomer immigrant and refugee children are at a high risk of vitamin D deficiency and inadequacy, which may have serious negative consequences for their health.

MeSH terms

  • Body Height
  • Bone Density*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism*
  • Calcium / deficiency
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Child
  • Color
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Refugees*
  • Saskatchewan / ethnology
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Calcium