The Prevalence of Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies and High Levels of Non-Essential Heavy Metals in Saudi Arabian Adults

Healthcare (Basel). 2022 Nov 30;10(12):2415. doi: 10.3390/healthcare10122415.


Although the micronutrient status of a population is of high national priority, as it critically impacts public health, limited data is available for quantifying the micronutrient status in Saudi Arabia. We aimed to provide comprehensive, epidemiological, descriptive data regarding micronutrient levels in Saudi adults. This cross-sectional study included 3432 adults aged ≥18 years (mean age, 37.7 ± 11.7 years; women, 51.2%) across all 13 Saudi administrative regions (March 2019-November 2021). Laboratory data for 14 micronutrients (8 vitamins, 4 minerals, and 2 nonessential heavy metals) were characterized using descriptive analysis. Vitamin D deficiency (64.3%) was the most prevalent, followed by vitamin B2 (44.9%) and A (9.6%) deficiencies. Among minerals, iron deficiency was the most prevalent (23.2%), followed by zinc (15.3%) and copper (8.7%) deficiencies. Most Saudi adults exhibited normal arsenic (99.7%) and mercury (99.9%) levels. Men exhibited significantly higher vitamin B2, B9, and D deficiencies than women, while women exhibited higher vitamin A, B12, iron, and zinc deficiencies than men. Younger adults demonstrated a significantly higher prevalence of vitamin D and iron deficiencies, whereas older adults exhibited a higher prevalence of vitamin B1 and magnesium deficiencies. As micronutrient deficiencies are a public health concern, health policies and programs need to be developed and implemented to address them.

Keywords: deficiencies; epidemiological; food fortification; metals; micronutrient; minerals; national health policy; prevalence; vitamins.