Vitamin D deficiency and hyperparathyroidism in relation to ethnicity: a cross-sectional survey in healthy adults



The study of vitamin D status at population level gained relevance since vitamin D deficiency was recently suggested to trigger chronic disease.

Aim of the study

We aimed to describe vitamin D status, its association with bone and mineral metabolism and risk factors for deficiency in adults over 40 years in Belgium.


We conducted a cross-sectional survey in a stratified random sample of 401 subjects aged between 40 and 60 years living in Brussels, and drawn from 4 different ethnic backgrounds: autochthonous Belgian, Moroccan, Turkish and Congolese. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), parathyroid hormone (PTH), osteocalcin, C-telopeptide and bone mineral density was measured.


Three-hundred and six subjects (77%) showed 25OHD concentrations below 50 nmol/l,135 (34%) below 25 nmol/l and 18 (5%) below 12.5 nmol/l. The proportion of subjects with vitamin D deficiency was four times greater amongst those of Moroccan or Turkish descent compared with those of Congolese or Belgian descent. Moroccan subjects showed a significant higher PTH and bone marker concentrations compared to Belgian. Ethnicity, season and sex were independently associated with vitamin D deficiency in multivariate analysis.


The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is very high amongst the adult population of Brussels but immigrants are at greater risk. Given the established link between population health and adequate vitamin D status, a policy of vitamin D supplementation should be considered in these risk groups.

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This work was supported by the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique Médicale (FRSM).

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Correspondence to Rodrigo Moreno-Reyes.

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Moreno-Reyes, R., Carpentier, Y.A., Boelaert, M. et al. Vitamin D deficiency and hyperparathyroidism in relation to ethnicity: a cross-sectional survey in healthy adults. Eur J Nutr 48, 31–37 (2009).

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  • vitamin D
  • ethnicity
  • bone metabolism
  • vitamin D deficiency
  • hyperparathyroidism