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The objective was to investigate the effects of substitution (SUB) dietary guidelines (DG) targeted at the prevention of IHD on dietary intake and IHD risk factors in Danish adults with minimum one self-assessed IHD risk factor. A 6-month single-blinded parallel randomised controlled trial with a follow-up at month 12 included 219 subjects (median age 51 years, 59 % female, 73 % overweight or obese) randomised into an SUB DG, an official (OFF) DG or a control group following their habitual diet (HAB). Participants in the DG intervention groups received bi-weekly reminders of their DG and recipes for dishes and the HAB group received a greeting. Dietary intake and fasting blood, anthropometric and blood pressure measurements were obtained at baseline, month 6 and month 12. Linear regression analyses were applied. At month 6, when compared with the HAB, the SUB had a greater impact on the extent of dietary changes with increased intake of whole grains, dietary fibre and low fibre vegetables compared with the OFF DG, and both DG groups had similar decreased percentage of energy (E%) intake from SFA. The extent of dietary changes was similar at month 12. No overall significant changes from baseline were found in blood pressure, anthropometrics and IHD risk markers. In conclusion, both SUB and OFF DG resulted in cardioprotective dietary changes. However, neither the SUB nor the OFF DG resulted in any overall effects on the selected intermediate risk factors for IHD.
In a longitudinal study including 642 healthy 8–11-year-old Danish children, we investigated associations between vitamin D dependent SNP and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations across a school year (August–June). Serum 25(OH)D was measured three times for every child, which approximated measurements in three seasons (autumn, winter, spring). Dietary and supplement intake, physical activity, BMI and parathyroid hormone were likewise measured at each time point. In all, eleven SNP in four vitamin D-related genes: Cytochrome P450 subfamily IIR1 (CYP2R1); 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase/nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide synthetase-1(DHCR7/NADSYN1); group-specific complement (GC); and vitamin D receptor were genotyped. We found minor alleles of CYP2R1 rs10500804, and of GC rs4588 and rs7041 to be associated with lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations across the three seasons (all P<0·01), with estimated 25(OH)D differences of −5·8 to −10·6 nmol/l from major to minor alleles homozygosity. In contrast, minor alleles homozygosity of rs10741657 and rs1562902 in CYP2R1 was associated with higher serum 25(OH)D concentrations compared with major alleles homozygosity (all P<0·001). Interestingly, the association between season and serum 25(OH)D concentrations was modified by GC rs7041 (Pinteraction=0·044), observed as absence of increase in serum 25(OH)D from winter to spring among children with minor alleles homozygous genotypes compared with the two other genotypes of rs7041 (P<0·001). Our results suggest that common genetic variants are associated with lower serum 25(OH)D concentrations across a school year. Potentially due to modified serum 25(OH)D response to UVB sunlight exposure. Further confirmation and paediatric studies investigating vitamin D-related health outcomes of these genotypic differences are needed.
To explore whether socio-economic differences exist in cardiometabolic risk markers in children and whether lifestyle-related factors potentially mediate these differences.
Cross-sectional study including measurements of fasting blood lipids, glucose, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), blood pressure and heart rate. Potential mediators examined were fat mass index (FMI); intakes of fruit, vegetables, dietary fibre and added sugar; whole-blood n-3 long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) as a biomarker of fish intake; and physical activity and sedentary time.
Nine primary schools in Denmark.
Children aged 8–11 years (n 715).
Children of parents with the shortest compared with longest education had higher TAG by 0·12 (95 % CI 0·04, 0·21) mmol/l and HOMA-IR by 0·36 (0·10, 0·62), whereas children of parents with a vocational education had higher total cholesterol by 0·14 (0·02, 0·27) mmol/l and LDL cholesterol by 0·14 (0·03, 0·25) mmol/l compared with children of parents with the longest education; all P<0·05. FMI explained 25 % of the difference in TAG, 64 % of the difference in HOMA-IR and 21–29 % of the differences in cholesterols. FMI and whole-blood n-3 LCPUFA combined explained 42 % of the difference in TAG, whereas FMI, whole-blood n-3 LCPUFA and dietary fibre explained 89 % of the difference in HOMA-IR.
Socio-economic differences were present in blood lipids and insulin resistance among 8- to 11-year-olds and were mediated by body fatness, whole-blood n-3 LCPUFA and dietary fibre. These lifestyle factors may be targets in public initiatives to reduce socio-economic differences. Confirmation in longitudinal studies and trials is warranted.
Dietary advanced glycation end products (AGE) formed during heating of food have gained interest as potential nutritional toxins with adverse effects on inflammation and glucose metabolism. In the present study, we investigated the short-term effects of high and low molecular weight (HMW and LMW) dietary AGE on insulin sensitivity, expression of the receptor for AGE (RAGE), the AGE receptor 1 (AGER1) and TNF-α, F2-isoprostaglandins, body composition and food intake. For 2 weeks, thirty-six Sprague–Dawley rats were fed a diet containing 20 % milk powder with different proportions of this being given as heated milk powder (0, 40 or 100 %), either native (HMW) or hydrolysed (LMW). Gene expression of RAGE and AGER1 in whole blood increased in the group receiving a high AGE LMW diet, which also had the highest urinary excretion of the AGE, methylglyoxal-derived hydroimidazolone 1 (MG-H1). Urinary excretion of Nε-carboxymethyl-lysine increased with increasing proportion of heat-treated milk powder in the HMW and LMW diets but was unrelated to gene expression. There was no difference in insulin sensitivity, F2-isoprostaglandins, food intake, water intake, body weight or body composition between the groups. In conclusion, RAGE and AGER1 expression can be influenced by a high AGE diet after only 2 weeks in proportion to MG-H1 excretion. No other short-term effects were observed.
Sufficient summer/autumn vitamin D status appears important to mitigate winter nadirs at northern latitudes. We conducted a cross-sectional study to evaluate autumn vitamin D status and its determinants in 782 Danish 8–11-year-old children (55°N) using baseline data from the Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet (OPUS) School Meal Study, a large randomised controlled trial. Blood samples and demographic and behavioural data, including 7-d dietary recordings, objectively measured physical activity, and time spent outdoors during school hours, were collected during September–November. Mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) was 60·8 (sd 18·7) nmol/l. Serum 25(OH)D levels ≤50 nmol/l were found in 28·4 % of the children and 2·4 % had concentrations <25 nmol/l. Upon multivariate adjustment, increasing age (per year) (β −2·9; 95 % CI −5·1, −0·7 nmol/l), female sex (β −3·3; 95 % CI −5·9, −0·7 nmol/l), sampling in October (β −5·2; 95 % CI −10·1, −0·4 nmol/l) and November (β −13·3; 95 % CI −17·7, −9·1), and non-white ethnicity (β −5·7; 95 % CI −11·1, −0·3 nmol/l) were negatively associated with 25(OH)D (all P<0·05). Likewise, immigrant/descendant background was negatively associated with 25(OH)D, particularly in females (β −16·3; 95 % CI −21·9, −10·7) (P<0·001) (Pinteraction=0·003). Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) (min/d) (β 0·06; 95 % CI 0·01, 0·12), outdoor walking during school hours (min/week) (β 0·4; 95 % CI 0·1, 0·6) and intake of vitamin D-containing supplements ≥3 d/week (β 8·7; 95 % CI 6·4, 11·0) were positively associated with 25(OH)D (all P<0·05). The high proportion of children with vitamin D status below the recommended sufficiency level of 50 nmol/l raises concern as levels expectedly drop further during winter months. Frequent intake of vitamin D supplements was strongly associated with status. MVPA and outdoor activity during school hours should be investigated further in interventions to improve autumn vitamin D status in children at northern latitudes.
Vitamin D status has been associated with cardiometabolic markers even in children, but the associations may be confounded by fat mass and physical activity behaviour. This study investigated associations between vitamin D status and cardiometabolic risk profile, as well as the impact of fat mass and physical activity in Danish 8–11-year-old children, using baseline data from 782 children participating in the Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet (OPUS) School Meal Study. We assessed vitamin D status as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and measured blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, homoeostasis model of assessment-insulin resistance, plasma lipids, inflammatory markers, anthropometry and fat mass by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and physical activity by 7 d accelerometry during August–November. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 60·8 (sd 18·7) nmol/l. Each 10 mmol/l 25(OH)D increase was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure (−0·3 mmHg, 95 % CI −0·6, −0·0) (P=0·02), total cholesterol (−0·07 mmol/l, 95 % CI −0·10, −0·05), LDL-cholesterol (−0·05 mmol/l, 95 % CI −0·08, −0·03), TAG (−0·02 mmol/l, 95 % CI −0·03, −0·01) (P≤0·001 for all lipids) and lower metabolic syndrome (MetS) score (P=0·01). Adjustment for fat mass index did not change the associations, but the association with blood pressure became borderline significant after adjustment for physical activity (P=0·06). In conclusion, vitamin D status was negatively associated with blood pressure, plasma lipids and a MetS score in Danish school children with low prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, and apart from blood pressure the associations were independent of body fat and physical activity. The potential underlying cause–effect relationship and possible long-term implications should be investigated in randomised controlled trials.
Fe and n-3 long-chain PUFA (n-3 LCPUFA) have both been associated with cognition, but evidence remains inconclusive in well-nourished school-aged children. In the Optimal Well-Being, Development and Health for Danish Children through a Healthy New Nordic Diet (OPUS) School Meal Study, the 3-month intervention increased reading performance, inattention, impulsivity and dietary intake of fish and Fe. This study investigated whether the intervention influenced n-3 LCPUFA and Fe status and, if so, explored how these changes correlated with the changes in cognitive performance. The study was a cluster-randomised cross-over trial comparing school meals with packed lunch (control). At baseline and after each treatment, we measured serum ferritin, whole-blood n-3 LCPUFA and Hb, and performance in reading, mathematics and d2-test of attention. Data were analysed using mixed models (n 726) and principal component analysis of test performances (n 644), which showed two main patterns: ‘school performance’ and ‘reading comprehension’. The latter indicated that children with good reading comprehension were also more inattentive and impulsive (i.e. higher d2-test error%). The intervention improved ‘school performance’ (P=0·015), ‘reading comprehension’ (P=0·043) and EPA+DHA status 0·21 (95 % CI 0·15, 0·27) w/w % (P<0·001), but it did not affect serum ferritin or Hb. At baseline, having small Fe stores was associated with poorer ‘school performance’ in girls, but with better ‘reading comprehension’ in both boys and girls. Both baseline EPA+DHA status and the intervention-induced increase in EPA+DHA status was positively associated with ‘school performance’, suggesting that n-3 LCPUFA could potentially explain approximately 20 % of the intervention effect. These exploratory associations indicate that increased fish intake might explain some of the increase in reading performance and inattention in the study.
A child's diet is an important determinant for later health, growth and development. In Denmark, most children in primary school bring their own packed lunch from home and attend an after-school care institution. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the food, energy and nutrient intake of Danish school children in relation to dietary guidelines and nutrient recommendations, and to assess the food intake during and outside school hours. In total, 834 children from nine public schools located in the eastern part of Denmark were included in this cross-sectional study and 798 children (95·7 %) completed the dietary assessment sufficiently (August–November 2011). The whole diet was recorded during seven consecutive days using the Web-based Dietary Assessment Software for Children (WebDASC). Compared with the food-based dietary guidelines and nutrient recommendations, 85 % of the children consumed excess amounts of red meat, 89 % consumed too much saturated fat, and 56 % consumed too much added sugar. Additionally 35 or 91 % of the children (depending on age group) consumed insufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables, 85 % consumed insufficient amounts of fish, 86 % consumed insufficient amounts of dietary fibre, 60 or 84 % had an insufficient Fe intake (depending on age group), and 96 % had an insufficient vitamin D intake. The study also showed that there is a higher intake of fruits and bread during school hours than outside school hours; this is not the case with, for example, fish and vegetables, and future studies should investigate strategies to increase fish and vegetable intake during school hours.
A New Nordic Diet (NND) was developed in the context of the Danish OPUS Study (Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet). Health, gastronomic potential, sustainability and Nordic identity were crucial principles of the NND. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of serving NND school meals compared with the usual packed lunches on the dietary intake of NND signature foods. For two 3-month periods, 834 Danish children aged 8–11 years received NND school meals or their usual packed lunches brought from home (control) in random order. The entire diet was recorded over 7 consecutive days using a validated Web-based Dietary Assessment Software for Children. The NND resulted in higher intakes during the entire week (% increase) of root vegetables (116 (95 % CI 1·93, 2·42)), cabbage (26 (95 % CI 1·08, 1·47)), legumes (22 (95 % CI 1·06, 1·40)), herbs (175 (95 % CI 2·36, 3·20)), fresh berries (48 (95 % CI 1·13, 1·94)), nuts and seeds (18 (95 % CI 1·02, 1·38)), lean fish and fish products (47 (95 % CI 1·31, 1·66)), fat fish and fish products (18 (95 % CI 1·02, 1·37)) and potatoes (129 (95 % CI 2·05, 2·56)). Furthermore, there was a decrease in the number of children with zero intakes when their habitual packed lunches were replaced by NND school meals. In conclusion, this study showed that the children increased their intake of NND signature foods, and, furthermore, there was a decrease in the number of children with zero intakes of NND signature foods when their habitual packed lunches were replaced by school meals following the NND principles.
Bias in self-reported dietary intake is important when evaluating the effect of dietary interventions, particularly for intervention foods. However, few have investigated this in children, and none have investigated the reporting accuracy of fish intake in children using biomarkers. In a Danish school meal study, 8- to 11-year-old children (n 834) were served the New Nordic Diet (NND) for lunch. The present study examined the accuracy of self-reported intake of signature foods (berries, cabbage, root vegetables, legumes, herbs, potatoes, wild plants, mushrooms, nuts and fish) characterising the NND. Children, assisted by parents, self-reported their diet in a Web-based Dietary Assessment Software for Children during the intervention and control (packed lunch) periods. The reported fish intake by children was compared with their ranking according to fasting whole-blood EPA and DHA concentration and weight percentage using the Spearman correlations and cross-classification. Direct observation of school lunch intake (n 193) was used to score the accuracy of food-reporting as matches, intrusions, omissions and faults. The reporting of all lunch foods had higher percentage of matches compared with the reporting of signature foods in both periods, and the accuracy was higher during the control period compared with the intervention period. Both Spearman's rank correlations and linear mixed models demonstrated positive associations between EPA+DHA and reported fish intake. The direct observations showed that both reported and real intake of signature foods did increase during the intervention period. In conclusion, the self-reported data represented a true increase in the intake of signature foods and can be used to examine dietary intervention effects.
Children's vitamin D intake and status can be optimised to meet recommendations. We investigated if nutritionally balanced school meals with weekly fish servings affected serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and markers related to bone in 8- to 11-year-old Danish children. We conducted an explorative secondary outcome analysis on data from 784 children from the OPUS School Meal Study, a cluster-randomised cross-over trial where children received school meals for 3 months and habitual lunch for 3 months. At baseline, and at the end of each dietary period, 25(OH)D, parathyroid hormone (PTH), osteocalcin (OC), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), bone mineral content (BMC), bone area (BA), bone mineral density (BMD), dietary intake and physical activity were assessed. School meals increased vitamin D intake by 0·9 (95 % CI 0·7, 1·1) μg/d. No consistent effects were found on 25(OH)D, BMC, BA, BMD, IGF-1 or OC. However, season-modified effects were observed with 25(OH)D, i.e. children completing the school meal period in January/February had higher 25(OH)D status (5·5 (95 % CI 1·8, 9·2) nmol/l; P = 0·004) than children completing the control period in these months. A similar tendency was indicated in November/December (4·1 (95 % CI –0·12, 8·3) nmol/l; P = 0·057). However, the effect was opposite in March/April (–4·0 (95 % CI –7·0, –0·9) nmol/l; P = 0·010), and no difference was found in May/June (P = 0·214). Unexpectedly, the school meals slightly increased PTH (0·18 (95 % CI 0·07, 0·29) pmol/l) compared with habitual lunch. Small increases in dietary vitamin D might hold potential to mitigate the winter nadir in Danish children's 25(OH)D status while higher increases appear necessary to affect status throughout the year. More trials on effects of vitamin D intake from natural foods are needed.
The aim of the present study was to compare total food intake, total and relative edible plate waste and self-reported food likings between school lunch based on the new Nordic diet (NND) and packed lunch from home. In two 3-month periods in a cluster-randomised controlled unblinded cross-over study 3rd- and 4th-grade children (n 187) from two municipal schools received lunch meals based on NND principles and their usual packed lunch (control). Food intake and plate waste (n 1558) were calculated after weighing lunch plates before and after the meal for five consecutive days and self-reported likings (n 905) assessed by a web-based questionnaire. Average food intake was 6 % higher for the NND period compared with the packed lunch period. The quantity of NND intake varied with the menu (P < 0·0001) and was positively associated with self-reported likings. The edible plate waste was 88 (sd 80) g for the NND period and 43 (sd 60) g for the packed lunch period whereas the relative edible plate waste was no different between periods for meals having waste (n 1050). Edible plate waste differed between menus (P < 0·0001), with more waste on soup days (36 %) and vegetarian days (23 %) compared with the packed lunch period. Self-reported likings were negatively associated with percentage plate waste (P < 0·0001). The study suggests that portion sizes need to be considered in new school meal programmes. New strategies with focus on reduction of plate waste, children's likings and nutritious school meals are crucial from both a nutritional, economic and environmental point of view.
It is widely assumed that nutrition can improve school performance in children; however, evidence remains limited and inconclusive. In the present study, we investigated whether serving healthy school meals influenced concentration and school performance of 8- to 11-year-old Danish children. The OPUS (Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet) School Meal Study was a cluster-randomised, controlled, cross-over trial comparing a healthy school meal programme with the usual packed lunch from home (control) each for 3 months (NCT 01457794). The d2 test of attention, the Learning Rating Scale (LRS) and standard tests on reading and mathematics proficiency were administered at baseline and at the end of each study period. Intervention effects were evaluated using hierarchical mixed models. The school meal intervention did not influence concentration performance (CP; primary outcome, n 693) or processing speed; however, the decrease in error percentage was 0·18 points smaller (P< 0·001) in the intervention period than in the control period (medians: baseline 2·03 %; intervention 1·46 %; control 1·37 %). In contrast, the intervention increased reading speed (0·7 sentence, P= 0·009) and the number of correct sentences (1·8 sentences, P< 0·001), which corresponded to 11 and 25 %, respectively, of the effect of one school year. The percentage of correct sentences also improved (P< 0·001), indicating that the number correct improved relatively more than reading speed. There was no effect on overall math performance or outcomes from the LRS. In conclusion, school meals did not affect CP, but improved reading performance, which is a complex cognitive activity that involves inference, and increased errors related to impulsivity and inattention. These findings are worth examining in future trials.
An increasing number of children are exhibiting features of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) including abdominal fatness, hypertension, adverse lipid profile and insulin resistance. Healthy eating practices during school hours may improve the cardiometabolic profile, but there is a lack of evidence. In the present study, the effect of provision of school meals rich in fish, vegetables and fibre on a MetS score (primary outcome) and on individual cardiometabolic markers and body composition (secondary outcomes) was investigated in 834 Danish school children. The study was carried out as a cluster-randomised, controlled, non-blinded, cross-over trial at nine schools. Children aged 8–11 years received freshly prepared school lunch and snacks or usual packed lunch from home (control) each for 3 months. Dietary intake, physical activity, cardiometabolic markers and body composition were measured at baseline and after each dietary period. The school meals did not affect the MetS score (P= 1·00). However, it was found that mean arterial pressure was reduced by 0·4 (95 % CI 0·0, 0·8) mmHg (P= 0·04), fasting total cholesterol concentrations by 0·05 (95 % CI 0·02, 0·08) mmol/l (P= 0·001), HDL-cholesterol concentrations by 0·02 (95 % CI 0·00, 0·03) mmol/l, TAG concentrations by 0·02 (95 % CI 0·00, 0·04) mmol/l (both P< 0·05), and homeostasis model of assessment-insulin resistance by 0·10 (95 % CI 0·04, 0·16) points (P= 0·001) compared with the control diet in the intention-to-treat analyses. Waist circumference increased 0·5 (95 % CI 0·3, 0·7) cm (P< 0·001), but BMI z-score remained unaffected. Complete-case analyses and analyses adjusted for household educational level, pubertal status and physical activity confirmed the results. In conclusion, the school meals did not affect the MetS score in 8–11-year-olds, as small improvements in blood pressure, TAG concentrations and insulin resistance were counterbalanced by slight undesired effects on waist circumference and HDL-cholesterol concentrations.
The impact of the familial relationship on vitamin D status has not been investigated previously. The objective of the present cross-sectional study was to assess serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration and its determinants in children and adults among families in late summer in Denmark (56°N). Data obtained from 755 apparently healthy children (4–17 years) and adults (18–60 years) recruited as families (n 200) in the VitmaD study were analysed. Blood samples were collected in September–October, and serum 25(OH)D concentration was measured by liquid chromatography–tandem MS. Information on potential determinants was obtained using questionnaires. The geometric mean serum 25(OH)D concentration was 72·1 (interquartile range 61·5–86·7) nmol/l (range 9–162 nmol/l), with 9 % of the subjects having 25(OH)D concentrations < 50 nmol/l. The intra-family correlation was 0·27 in all subjects, 0·24 in the adults and 0·42 in the children. Serum 25(OH)D concentration was negatively associated with BMI (P< 0·001) and positively associated with dietary vitamin D intake (P= 0·008), multivitamin use (P= 0·019), solarium use (P= 0·006), outdoor stay (P= 0·001), sun preference (P= 0·002) and sun vacation (P< 0·001), but was not associated with lifestyle-related factors in the adults when these were assessed together with the other determinants. In conclusion, the majority of children and adults among the families had serum 25(OH)D concentrations >50 nmol/l in late summer in Denmark. Both dietary and sun-related factors were determinants of vitamin D status and the familial component was stronger for the children than for the adults.
The OPUS (Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet (NND)) School Meal Study investigated the effects on the intake of foods and nutrients of introducing school meals based on the principles of the NND covering lunch and all snacks during the school day in a cluster-randomised cross-over design. For two 3-month periods, 834 Danish children aged 8–11 years from forty-six school classes at nine schools received NND school meals or their usual packed lunches brought from home (control) in random order. The whole diet of the children was recorded over seven consecutive days using a validated Web-based Dietary Assessment Software for Children. The NND resulted in higher intakes of potatoes (130 %, 95 % CI 2·07, 2·58), fish (48 %, 95 % CI 1·33, 1·65), cheese (25 %, 95 % CI 1·15, 1·36), vegetables (16 %, 95 % CI 1·10, 1·21), eggs (10 %, 95 % CI 1·01, 1·19) and beverages (6 %, 95 % CI 1·02, 1·09), and lower intakes of bread (13 %, 95 % CI 0·84, 0·89) and fats (6 %, 95 % CI 0·90, 0·98) were found among the children during the NND period than in the control period (all, P< 0·05). No difference was found in mean energy intake (P= 0·4), but on average children reported 0·9 % less energy intake from fat and 0·9 % higher energy intake from protein during the NND period than in the control period. For micronutrient intakes, the largest differences were found for vitamin D (42 %, 95 % CI 1·32, 1·53) and iodine (11 %, 95 % CI 1·08, 1·15) due to the higher fish intake. In conclusion, the present study showed that the overall dietary intake at the food and nutrient levels was improved among children aged 8–11 years when their habitual packed lunches were replaced by school meals following the principles of the NND.
Severe vitamin D deficiency is common among Muslim immigrants. The dose necessary to correct the deficiency and its consequence for bone health are not known for immigrants. The aim was to assess the effect of relatively low dosages of supplemental vitamin D on vitamin D and bone status in Pakistani immigrants. This 1-year-long randomised double-blinded placebo-controlled intervention with vitamin D3 (10 and 20 μg/d) included girls (10·1–14·7 years), women (18·1–52·7 years) and men (17·9–63·5 years) of Pakistani origin living in Denmark. The main endpoints were serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (S-25OHD), parathyroid hormone, bone turnover markers and bone mass. The study showed that supplementation with 10 and 20 μg vitamin D3 per d increased S-25OHD concentrations similarly in vitamin D-deficient Pakistani women (4-fold), and that 10 μg increased S-25OHD concentrations 2-fold and 20 μg 3-fold in Pakistani men. S-25OHD concentrations increased at 6 months and were stable thereafter. Baseline S-25OHD concentrations tended to be lower in girls and women than in men; females achieved about 46 nmol/l and men 55 nmol/l after supplementation. Serum intact parathyroid hormone concentrations decreased at 6 months, but there was no significant effect of the intervention on bone turnover markers and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry measurements of the whole body and lumbar spine.
Vitamin D is produced endogenously when the skin is exposed to sunlight and can be obtained exogenously from a few natural food sources, from food fortification and from supplements. Generally, vitamin D intake is low ≤2–3 μg/d in Europe. Casual exposure to sunlight is thought to provide most of the vitamin D requirement of the human population. However, skin synthesis of vitamin D may not compensate for the low nutritional intake in Europe, even in countries with high supplies from food fortification and supplements. For assessment of vitamin D nutritional status the concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) in serum is considered to be an accurate integrative measure reflecting an individual's dietary intake and cutaneous production. A substantial percentage of the elderly and adolescents in Europe have a low concentration of 25(OH)D; in the elderly this percentage ranges from approximately 10 in the Nordic countries to approximately 40 in France. Low vitamin D status seems to be aggravated by disease and immobility, and by a low frequency of supplement use.
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