Prevalence of Vitamin D Insufficiency and Deficiency among Young Physicians at University District Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Margarita Ramírez-Vick, Leticia Hernández-Dávila, Nixzaliz Rodríguez-Rivera, Mariel López-Valentín, Lillian Haddock, Renil Rodríguez-Martínez, Alex González-Bossolo


Vitamin D has been attracting increased attention because of higher prevalences of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency than expected in areas with sufficient sun exposure. Even though sunlight exposure and diet are the main determinants of vitamin D status, other factors, such as age, race, the use (or not) of sunscreen, medications, and malabsorptive conditions, also affect vitamin D levels. Recent studies have found high prevalences of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in different populations. However, there are limited data regarding the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in Puerto Rico. To shed more light on the subject, we evaluated a sample of 51 internal medicine residents and research fellows, aged from 25 to 39 years at the University District Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, doing so by means of a questionnaire that explored basic socio demographic and lifestyle characteristics and collected anthropometric data; in addition, we obtained blood samples in order to determine 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. The median 25-hydroxyvitamin D level was 21 ng/mL (range, 7-38 ng/mL). Forty-five participants (88.2%) had 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations of lower than 30 ng/mL. We found vitamin D deficiencies in 43.1% of the population and insufficiencies in 45.1%. Contributory factors to our findings include limited exposure to sunlight during periods of high sun intensity, increased body mass index, and a limited area of the body being exposed to sunlight. A relationship between reduced physical activity levels and hypovitaminosis D was also found. Both calcium intake and vitamin D intake, which were markedly below recommended daily allowances, were positively correlated with 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels, but with a weak association.


25-Hydroxyvitamin D/ calcium, dietary/ vitamin D, dietary/ physical activity/ sunlight exposure

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