Low Vitamin D Prevalence in the UK Afro-Caribbean Community

Pavankumar Kamat

December 03, 2021

Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are highly prevalent in the UK African-Caribbean population, a new study suggests. The findings warrant urgent revision of the vitamin D recommended nutrient intake for ethnic groups.

Researchers at the University of Surrey assessed serum vitamin D levels and the vitamin D intake among 4046 individuals of the UK African-Caribbean community, identified from the UK Biobank.

The findings published in the journal  Nutrients  showed that 37.0% of individuals from the UK African-Caribbean community had vitamin D deficiency (<25 nmol/L), 41.1% had vitamin D insufficiency (>25-50 nmol/L) and only 15.9% had adequate serum vitamin D levels (>50 nmol/L). The median serum vitamin concentration in the African-Caribbean population was 30 nmol/L.

"The high levels of deficiency and insufficiency revealed by the study are troubling because of the association between poor vitamin D intake and poor bone and immune health," said Dr Andrea Darling, a senior author of the study.

The study also found suboptimal vitamin D intake in the African-Caribbean community. The median intake of vitamin D was 1.6 µg/day and only 4.8% of the population fulfilled the UK recommendation of 10 µg/day for adults.

Brown/black skin phenotype, blood drawn during winter, non-consumption of oily fish, and non-use of vitamin D supplements were factors associated with an increased likelihood of vitamin D deficiency. Conversely, older age and blood drawn during summer or autumn were associated with a reduced likelihood of vitamin D deficiency.

Rebecca Vearing, a PhD research fellow at the University of Surrey and the study's corresponding author, said: "Our findings suggest that there is a need for further public health messaging, especially for ethnic minority groups, to promote vitamin D supplementation and intake of food naturally rich in vitamin D such as oily fish and eggs, or foods such as breakfast cereals which are fortified with vitamin D."

This research is part of the PhD of Rebecca Vearing, which is funded by the Universities Global Partnership Network, co-supervised by the Universities of Surrey and Wollongong. Funders had no role in the study.

Nutrients. 2021;13(11). Full text

 

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