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Few data exist looking at vitamin D status and bone health in school-aged boys and girls from Saudi Arabia. The present study aimed to determine the extent of poor vitamin D status in school boys and girls aged 6–18 years and to examine if there was any difference in status with age, physical activity and veiling and concomitant effects on bone.
Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
A total of 150 boys (7–16 years) and 150 girls (6–18 years) from local schools were divided into age categories: 6–9 years (elementary school); 10–12 years (secondary school); 13–14 years (middle years); 15–18 years (high school).
Vitamin D status was significantly lower in girls than boys in all age groups (P < 0·01), with the 15–18-year-old girls having the lowest level (22·0 (sd 9·4) nmol/l) in comparison to the 15–18-year-old boys (39·3 (sd 14·0) nmol/l) and the 6–9-year-old girls (41·2 (sd 9·3) nmol/l). Parathyroid hormone status was highest in the 15–18-year-old girls in comparison to boys of the same age. A total of 64 % of 15–18-year-old girls had 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) status <25 nmol/l in comparison to 31 % in the 13–14 years age category, 26 % in the 10–12 years category and 2·5 % in the 6–9 years category. No boys had 25OHD status <25 nmol/l. Fully veiled girls had lower 25OHD status than partly veiled or unveiled girls (P < 0·05). Low 25OHD and high parathyroid hormone was associated with lower bone mass in the 6–9 years and 13–14 years age groups (P < 0·05).
These data suggest significant hypovitaminosis D in older adolescent females, which is a cause for concern given that there is currently no public health policy for vitamin D in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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