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Access Type

Open Access

Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Vitamin D, Bangladesh, public health, reproductive health


Vitamin D deficiency is of particular concern among women in many south Asian countries due to low availability of vitamin D-rich foods, dark skin pigmentation, and cultural and religious practices that promote the wearing of concealing clothing. However, information regarding the vitamin D status of many subpopulations in south Asian countries is limited. The current study was conducted to assess the vitamin D status of 147 Bangladeshi women of reproductive age and determine whether vitamin D status influences susceptibility to arsenic-associated skin lesions (75 cases, 72 controls). Serum 25(OH)D3 levels were measured using a radioimmunoassay. The mean serum vitamin D level among the women in the current study was 60.1 nmol/L, which is well below the cut-off value of 75 nmol/L defining optimal vitamin D status. Over 81% of the women were below this cut-off value. Vitamin D status was not influenced by the presence of arsenic-associated skin lesions. Sun exposure and very low egg consumption were factors identified as significant predictors of vitamin D status (p<0.05, p<0.04, respectively). Every additional hour of sun exposure per week during work was associated with a 0.32 nmol/L, on average, increase in serum vitamin D levels. Very low egg consumption corresponded to a 10.85 nmol/L lower serum vitamin D level compared to frequent egg consumption. Public health efforts in Bangladesh should promote increased consumption of food sources rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D fortification or supplementation may also be viable options to improve the vitamin D status of the population.

First Advisor

Alayne G Ronnenberg