The determinants and longitudinal changes in vitamin D status in middle-age: a Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 study

Eur J Nutr. 2021 Dec;60(8):4541-4553. doi: 10.1007/s00394-021-02606-z. Epub 2021 Jun 17.


Purpose: Populations living in the Nordic countries are at high risk for vitamin D (VitD) deficiency or insufficiency. To reduce the risk, nationwide interventions based on food fortification and supplementation are being implemented. However, there is limited evidence about the impact of such public health campaigns on target populations.

Methods: We studied an unselected sample of 3650 participants (56.2% females) from the longitudinal Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 with repeated measures of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] at ages 31 (1997) and 46 (2012-2013). Timepoints corresponded to the period before and during the food fortification. We examined the effect of VitD intake from the diet and supplementation, body mass index and previous 25(OH)D concentration on 25(OH)D concentration at 46 years using a multivariable linear regression analysis. A 25(OH)D z score adjusted for sex, season, latitude and technical effect was used in the analysis.

Results: We observed an increase of 10.6 nmol/L in 25(OH)D, when the baseline 25(OH)D was 54.3 nmol/L. The prevalence of serum 25(OH)D below < 50 nmol/L was halved. The changes were found for both sexes and were more pronounced in winter compared to summer months. Regular VitD supplementation had a significant positive effect on 25(OH)D at the age of 46, as well as had the dietary intake of fortified dairy products and fish, and the previous 25(OH)D concentration. However, the intake of fat-spreads albeit VitD-fortified, did not predict 25(OH)D.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrated the positive impact of the fortification programme on VitD status in middle-aged population.

Keywords: 25(OH)D; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Food fortification; Population-based; Vitamin D fortification; Vitamin D supplementation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Seasons
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / epidemiology
  • Vitamins


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D