Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 255–263

Vitamin D Insufficiency in Greenlanders on a Westernized Fare: Ethnic Differences in Calcitropic Hormones Between Greenlanders and Danes

  • L. Rejnmark
  • M. E. Jørgensen
  • M. B. Pedersen
  • J. C. Hansen
  • L. Heickendorff
  • A. L. Lauridsen
  • G. Mulvad
  • C. Siggaard
  • H. Skjoldborg
  • T. B. Sørensen
  • E. B. Pedersen
  • L. Mosekilde


We studied the influence of age, gender, latitude, season, diet and ethnicity on plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D 25 OHD, PTH, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, vitamin D-binding protein, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase, and osteocalcin levels in 46 Greenlanders living in Nuuk (64°N) on a traditional fare (group A), 45 Greenlanders living in Nuuk on a westernized fare (group B), 54 Greenlanders (group C), and 43 Danes (Group D) living in Denmark (55°N) on a westernized fare. Blood specimens were drawn both summer and winter. Vitamin D insufficiency (plasma 25 OHD <40 nmol/l) was common in all four study groups during summer (23–74%) and winter (42–81%). Compared to groups A and D, vitamin D insufficiency was significantly more frequent in groups B and C. In all groups, summer levels of 25 OHD were above winter levels. Multiple regression analysis revealed a significant effect of ethnicity. Compared to Danes, Greenlanders had higher 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels, but lower 25 OHD and PTH levels despite relatively low plasma calcium concentrations. In addition to ethnicity, 25(OH)D levels were influenced by age, season (summer > winter), and diet (a traditional Inuit diet>westernized diet). Ethnical differences exist between Greenlanders and Danes. Our results suggest that Greenlanders may have an inherent lower “set-point” for calcium-regulated PTH release or an enhanced renal 1,25(OH)2D production. In addition to ethnicity, age, season, and diet were important determinants of vitamin D status. Changes from a traditional to a westernized fare are associated with a reduced vitamin D status in Greenlanders. Vitamin D supplementation should be considered.


Steroid hormones Vitamin D Peptide hormones PTH/PTHrP Bone Turnover Markers Greenland Ethnicity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Rejnmark
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. E. Jørgensen
    • 3
    • 4
  • M. B. Pedersen
    • 3
  • J. C. Hansen
    • 2
    • 5
  • L. Heickendorff
    • 6
  • A. L. Lauridsen
    • 7
  • G. Mulvad
    • 8
  • C. Siggaard
    • 2
  • H. Skjoldborg
    • 2
  • T. B. Sørensen
    • 2
  • E. B. Pedersen
    • 2
    • 9
  • L. Mosekilde
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept of Endocrinology and Metabolism CAarhus Amtssygehus, Aarhus University Hospital, AarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesAarhus University, AarhusDenmark
  3. 3.Dept of MedicineQueen Ingrids Hospital, NuukGreenland
  4. 4.Steno Diabetes Centre, GentofteDenmark
  5. 5.Center for Arctic Environmental Medicine, Dept of Environmental and Occupational MedicineAarhus University, AarhusDenmark
  6. 6.Dept of Clinical Biochemistry, Aarhus AmtssygehusAarhus University Hospital, AarhusDenmark
  7. 7.Dept of Clinical Biochemistry, AKHAarhus University Hospital, AarhusDenmark
  8. 8.Center for Primary Health Care, NuukGreenland
  9. 9.Dept of MedicineHospital of Holstebro, HolstebroDenmark

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