The Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in Impoverished Communities in Northern Lima, Peru
Context: Vitamin D deficiency is a global concern. There are many factors that affect the levels of vitamin D including demographics, gender, skin pigmentation, geographic location, and body mass index (BMI). In Lima, Peru, vitamin D levels may be influenced by ethnicity, socioeconomic status, overcrowded conditions, air pollution, and chronic disease status.
Objective: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to measure the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency in a sample of impoverished adults living in northern Lima. It was hypothesized that more than 40% of the study sample would have deficient levels of vitamin D. The Endocrine Society defines deficient levels as
being < 20 ng/mL of 25(OH)D3, insufficient being 21–29 ng/mL of 25(OH)D3.
Methods: In June 2016, a Global Health team from Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine provided medical clinics in impoverished communities in northern Lima. From a random sample of consenting adults, finger stick capillary blood samples were applied to Whatman protein saver cards and subsequently dried.
Dried blood samples were punched, extracted, and analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Participants had BMI measured as well.
Results: 25(OH)D3 samples were obtained from 144 adults, 116 (80.6%) women, 20 (13.9%) men, 8 (5.6%) unspecified gender, age range of 18–94 with a mean of 39 years. In 66 patients (45.8%), 25(OH)D3 was deficient. In 74 patients (51.4%), 25(OH)D3 was insufficient. In 4 patients (2.8%), 25(OH)D3 was sufficient. For the women, 57 (49.1%) were deficient, 56 (48.3%) insufficient. For the men, 7 (35%) were deficient, 13 (65%) insufficient. Mean BMI was 27.3, with a range of 17.3–43.3; 40.3% were overweight and 23.6% were obese. No relationship between vitamin D levels and gender was identified (p = 0.203). There was no significant association between
BMI levels and vitamin D levels (p = 0.418).
Conclusions: In this sample, nearly one half of those tested had deficient levels of 25(OH)D3, with the vast majority (97%) having less than sufficient levels. This study population also demonstrated an average BMI of 27.3. Further study is needed to clarify the role of vitamin D as a therapeutic and its relationship with BMI.