BACKGROUND: Very few studies have investigated the determinants of circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) in young adults (18-25 years old) using a set of variables that include lifestyle, sociodemographic, and anthropometric data. Our aim was to investigate the association between these variables and vitamin D status in a sample of untreated young adults.
METHODS: A total of 738 young adults were enrolled in a (June cross-sectional study 2012 to May 2014) and were recruited from educational institutions in the Copenhagen area. For multivariate logistic regression subjects was categorized based on 25[OH]D in serum into; vitamin D sufficiency (S-25[OH]D > 50 nmol/L), vitamin D insufficiency (25 nmol/L ≤ S-25[OH]D ≤ 50 nmol/L), vitamin D deficiency (S-25[OH]D < 25 nmol/L). Information on lifestyle factors and education was obtained by self-reported questionnaires.
RESULTS: 700 subjects with a valid measurement of S-25[OH]D and a completed questionnaire was analysed. 238 had vitamin D insufficiency, 135 had vitamin D deficiency of which 13 had severe vitamin D deficiency (S-25[OH]D < 12.5 nmol/L). The relative risk (RR) for vitamin D deficiency was highest for men 2.09 (1.52, 2.87); obese subjects 2.00 (1.27, 3.15); smokers 1.33 (1.02, 1.73); subjects who exercised 0-½ hours a week 1.88 (1.21, 2.94); and subjects who consumed fast food once a week 1.59 (1.05, 2.43). The relative risk was significantly lower for subjects who were studying for a Bachelor's degree (0.40 (0.23, 0.68). For vitamin D insufficiency, the highest RR was again for men 1.31 (1.06, 1.61); obese subjects 1.57 (1.17, 2.11); and subjects who exercised 0-½ hours a week 1.51 (1.11, 2.06).
CONCLUSION: In this study of young adults, vitamin D deficiency was highly prevalent. Modifiable factors such as smoking, maintenance of normal BMI, and physical activity are all potential targets for interventional trials to determine the causal order; such knowledge would be useful in improving S-25[OH]D in young adults. The small group with severe vitamin D deficiency warrants increased attention.