Low vitamin D deficiency in Irish toddlers despite northerly latitude and a high prevalence of inadequate intakes
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While reports of inadequate vitamin D intakes among young children are widespread, data on the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency are inconsistent. We aimed to quantify vitamin D intake and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations in children aged 2 years in the prospective Cork BASELINE Birth Cohort Study.
Serum 25(OH)D was analysed using UPLC-MS/MS in 741 children living in Cork, Ireland (51°N). Two-day weighed food diaries were collected in 467 children, and 294 provided both a blood sample and a food diary.
Mean (SD) 25(OH)D concentrations were 63.4 (20.4) nmol/L [winter: 54.5 (19.9), summer: 71.2 (17.5)]. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (<30 nmol/L) was 4.6, and 26.7% were <50 nmol/L [45.2% during winter (November–April) and 10.4% in summer (May–October)]. With a mean (SD) vitamin D intake of 3.5 (3.1) µg/day, 96% had intakes below 10 µg/day, the current IOM estimated average requirement and the SACN safe intake value for this age group. After adjustment for season, vitamin D intake (µg/day) was associated with higher 25(OH)D concentrations [adjusted estimate (95% CI) 2.5 (1.9, 3.1) nmol/L]. Children who did not consume vitamin D-fortified foods or supplements had very low vitamin D intakes (1.2 (0.9) µg/day), and during winter, 12 and 77% were <30 and <50 nmol/L, respectively, compared with 6 and 44% of fortified food consumers.
There was a high prevalence of low vitamin D status during winter, especially among children who did not consume fortified foods or nutritional supplements. Our data indicate the need for dietary strategies to increase vitamin D intakes in this age group. This report provides further evidence that DRVs for vitamin D should be based on experimental data in specific population groups and indicates the need for dose–response RCTs in young children.
KeywordsVitamin D intake 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Fortified foods Supplements Young children
The National Children’s Research Centre is the primary funding source for the Cork BASELINE Birth Cohort Study. Additional support came from a grant from the UK Food Standards Agency to J.O’B.H., A.D.I. and D.M.M. and from Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition to M.K. This work and C. ní C. are supported by a grant to M.K. from the European Commission (ODIN, grant 613977 Food based solutions for optimal vitamin D nutrition and health through the life-cycle). None of the funding agencies had a role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.
The authors would like to thank Darina Sheehan, Emma Cobbe and the rest of the Cork BASELINE Birth Cohort Study research team and also the families for their dedication and continued support.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Research objectives and measurements in the Cork BASELINE Birth Cohort Study were conducted according to the guidelines laid down by the Declaration of Helsinki, and ethical approval was granted by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Cork Teaching Hospitals, ref ECM 5 (9) 01/07/2008. The study is registered with the United States National Institutes of Health Clinical Trials Registry (http://www.clinicaltrials.gov), ID: NCT01498965.
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