Vitamin D treatment in Somali women living in Sweden - Two randomized, placebo-controlled studies

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2016 Oct;85(4):535-43. doi: 10.1111/cen.13097. Epub 2016 Jun 2.


Objective: There is limited information about the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the effects of treatment on immigrants. The effects of oral vitamin D intake and UVB treatment on vitamin D status in healthy Somali women living in Sweden were analysed.

Design: Two studies were carried out; a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, with oral drops of 800 IU and 1600 IU cholecalciferol and similar amounts of placebo given daily during 12 weeks and a single-blind, placebo-controlled study, using UVB (4·3-8·7 J/cm(2) ) or Woods lamp (placebo) on the upper body, or the face and hands.

Patients: One-hundred fourteen Somali women, mean age 34 years, latitude 0-10°N, living in Sweden >2 years, latitude 57°N, participated.

Measurements: Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (S-25(OH)D) was monitored before, every 6 weeks and at 3 months after treatment.

Results: The majority of the women (n = 83, 73%) were vitamin D-deficient, S-25(OH)D < 25 nmol/l at start. There was a dose-dependent increase in S-25(OH)D levels (P = 0·001, stratified Jonckheere-Terpstra test) with a mean increase after twelve weeks in women treated with 800 IU/day and women treated with 1600 IU/day of 18 nmol/l (95% CI: 6-29, median = 17) and 29 nmol/l (95% CI: 17-42, median = 34), respectively. S-25(OH)D decreased during follow-up but remained above baseline levels. The placebo group remained unchanged throughout the study. UVB treatment increased S-25(OH)D dose-dependently after 6 weeks (P = 0·03, Jonckheere-Terpstra test).

Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency was common in immigrants living at higher latitudes. Vitamin D treatment increased S-25(OH)D levels dose-dependently during 3 months. The effect was maintained for another 3 months. At least 1600 IU/day is recommended. The dropout rate was high.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Somalia / ethnology
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy*


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D