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Elżbieta Karczmarewicz: Retired from The Children's Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw.
To evaluate the extent to which the population of Polish preadolescents is vitamin D deficient and to assess seasonal variations in vitamin D status.
Participants and methods
A total of 720 healthy children aged 9–13 years (409 girls, 311 boys) residing in 6 representative geographical locations in Poland were studied. A parental-assisted questionnaire provided data on nutritional habits, vitamin D supplements and sun exposure. Serum concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin was determined twice, after the winter in March and after the summer in October.
In March, vitamin D deficiency (25–50 nmol/L) was found in 64%, and severe deficiency (< 25 nmol/L) in 20.2% of children. In October, the deficiency and severe deficiency were still noticed in 25.9 and 0.1% of children, respectively. The mean serum concentration of 25-OHD was 52% higher in October (55.4 ± 14.0 nmol/L) than in March (36.4 ± 13.5 nmol/L), (p < 0.01). In children with 25-OHD < 50 nmol/L in March, their 25-OHD concentration increased by 64% through March to October (32.5 ± 8.2 vs. 53.2 ± 7.9 nmol/L, p < 0.01). An association was found between 25-OHD concentration and regular consumption of vitamin D supplements, cod-liver oil and fish.
The majority of preadolescent Polish boys and girls show vitamin D deficiency after the winter period, although a distinct amelioration over summertime is found in this age group. There is a need to implement effective prevention and intervention strategies in the management of vitamin D deficiency among schoolchildren in Poland, with the supplementation throughout the entire year.