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      Prevalence and Determinants of Vitamin D Deficiency in 9595 Mongolian Schoolchildren: A Cross-Sectional Study

      , , , , , , ,
      Nutrients
      MDPI AG

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          Abstract

          Population-based data relating to vitamin D status of children in Northeast Asia are lacking. We conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the prevalence and determinants of vitamin D deficiency in 9595 schoolchildren aged 6–13 years in Ulaanbaatar (UB), the capital city of Mongolia. Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency were collected by questionnaire, and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) concentrations were measured using an enzyme-linked fluorescent assay, standardized and categorized as deficient (25[OH]D <10 ng/mL) or not. Odds ratios for associations between independent variables and risk of vitamin D deficiency were calculated using multivariate analysis with adjustment for potential confounders. The prevalence of vitamins D deficiency was 40.6% (95% CI 39.7% to 41.6%). It was independently associated with female gender (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] for girls vs. boys 1.23, 95% CI 1.11–1.35), month of sampling (aORs for December–February vs. June–November 5.28 [4.53–6.15], March–May vs. June–November 14.85 [12.46–17.74]), lower levels of parental education (P for trend <0.001), lower frequency of egg consumption (P for trend <0.001), active tuberculosis (aOR 1.40 [1.03–1.94]), household smoking (aOR 1.13 [1.02 to1.25]), and shorter time outdoors (P for trend <0.001). We report a very high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among Mongolian schoolchildren, which requires addressing as a public health priority.

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          Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences.

          Vitamin D deficiency is now recognized as a pandemic. The major cause of vitamin D deficiency is the lack of appreciation that sun exposure in moderation is the major source of vitamin D for most humans. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and foods that are fortified with vitamin D are often inadequate to satisfy either a child's or an adult's vitamin D requirement. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets in children and will precipitate and exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures in adults. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and infectious diseases. A circulating level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D of >75 nmol/L, or 30 ng/mL, is required to maximize vitamin D's beneficial effects for health. In the absence of adequate sun exposure, at least 800-1000 IU vitamin D3/d may be needed to achieve this in children and adults. Vitamin D2 may be equally effective for maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D when given in physiologic concentrations.
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            Vitamin D: An overview of vitamin D status and intake in Europe

            In recent years, there have been reports suggesting a high prevalence of low vitamin D intakes and vitamin D deficiency or inadequate vitamin D status in Europe. Coupled with growing concern about the health risks associated with low vitamin D status, this has resulted in increased interest in the topic of vitamin D from healthcare professionals, the media and the public. Adequate vitamin D status has a key role in skeletal health. Prevention of the well-described vitamin D deficiency disorders of rickets and osteomalacia are clearly important, but there may also be an implication of low vitamin D status in bone loss, muscle weakness and falls and fragility fractures in older people, and these are highly significant public health issues in terms of morbidity, quality of life and costs to health services in Europe. Although there is no agreement on optimal plasma levels of vitamin D, it is apparent that blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels are often below recommended ranges for the general population and are particularly low in some subgroups of the population, such as those in institutions or who are housebound and non-Western immigrants. Reported estimates of vitamin D status within different European countries show large variation. However, comparison of studies across Europe is limited by their use of different methodologies. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency [often defined as plasma 25(OH)D <25 nmol/l] may be more common in populations with a higher proportion of at-risk groups, and/or that have low consumption of foods rich in vitamin D (naturally rich or fortified) and low use of vitamin D supplements. The definition of an adequate or optimal vitamin D status is key in determining recommendations for a vitamin D intake that will enable satisfactory status to be maintained all year round, including the winter months. In most European countries, there seems to be a shortfall in achieving current vitamin D recommendations. An exception is Finland, where dietary survey data indicate that recent national policies that include fortification and supplementation, coupled with a high habitual intake of oil-rich fish, have resulted in an increase in vitamin D intakes, but this may not be a suitable strategy for all European populations. The ongoing standardisation of measurements in vitamin D research will facilitate a stronger evidence base on which policies can be determined. These policies may include promotion of dietary recommendations, food fortification, vitamin D supplementation and judicious sun exposure, but should take into account national, cultural and dietary habits. For European nations with supplementation policies, it is important that relevant parties ensure satisfactory uptake of these particularly in the most vulnerable groups of the population.
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              Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation and risk of acute respiratory infection in Mongolia.

              Observational studies suggest that serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) are inversely associated with acute respiratory infections (ARIs). We hypothesized that vitamin D supplementation of children with vitamin D deficiency would lower the risk of ARIs. By using cluster randomization, classrooms of 744 Mongolian schoolchildren were randomly assigned to different treatments in winter (January-March). This analysis focused on a subset of 247 children who were assigned to daily ingestion of unfortified regular milk (control; n = 104) or milk fortified with 300 IU of vitamin D(3) (n = 143). This comparison was double-blinded. The primary outcome was the number of parent-reported ARIs over the past 3 months. At baseline, the median serum 25(OH)D level was 7 ng/mL (interquartile range: 5-10 ng/mL). At the end of the trial, follow-up was 99% (n = 244), and the median 25(OH)D levels of children in the control versus vitamin D groups was significantly different (7 vs 19 ng/mL; P < .001). Compared with controls, children receiving vitamin D reported significantly fewer ARIs during the study period (mean: 0.80 vs 0.45; P = .047), with a rate ratio of 0.52 (95% confidence interval: 0.31-0.89). Adjusting for age, gender, and history of wheezing, vitamin D continued to halve the risk of ARI (rate ratio: 0.50 [95% confidence interval: 0.28-0.88]). Similar results were found among children either below or above the median 25(OH)D level at baseline (rate ratio: 0.41 vs 0.57; P(interaction) = .27). Vitamin D supplementation significantly reduced the risk of ARIs in winter among Mongolian children with vitamin D deficiency.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                NUTRHU
                Nutrients
                Nutrients
                MDPI AG
                2072-6643
                November 2021
                November 21 2021
                : 13
                : 11
                : 4175
                Article
                10.3390/nu13114175
                95db5fbe-c694-4031-990c-939fb12709d2
                © 2021

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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