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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Nutrition

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded

2009

Month Degree Awarded

May

Keywords

Vitamin D, Bangladesh, public health, reproductive health

Abstract

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

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