A study of 90 pregnant women who attend Newtown Medical Health Services in Wellington has found 87 per cent vitamin D deficient, with 61 per cent severely deficient in the vitamin.
The study, which appears in this week's New Zealand Medical Journal, highlights the magnitude of vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women.
The study, authored by Wellington Hospital endocrinologist Dr Carl Eagleton and Newtown Medical Health Services GP Dr Annie Judkins, was prompted by anecdotal reports of an increase in childhood rickets in southeast Wellington. Newtown, a small primary healthcare organisation, has had 10 cases of childhood rickets over the past three years.
The PHO, which caters to a diverse population, found vitamin D deficiency to be prevalent across almost all ethnic groups, regardless of whether subjects wore veils, or were dark-skinned - two risk factors.
Even among pregnant women of European descent, vitamin D deficiency was found in 67 per cent of those studied.
Only 22 per cent of subjects wore veils, while just over a third of the subjects lived in apartments, limiting any links to sunlight exposure and their ability to sit outside for periods of time.
All the vitamin D-deficient women studied received supplementation in the form of a vitamin D2 tablet.
Gary Moller comments
I live next to Newtown and go past the local school most days. Dr Judkins was a medical student at the time she went to the Commonwealth Games with my sister Lorraine. Ann was a walker. It has always amused me that the mostly non-European Newtown children are not allowed outside without wearing floppy hats. For them, the odds of developing skin cancer from sunlight are as good as nil!
So far, not a single person I have had tested, including me, has come anywhere near having optimum vitamin D levels. Such has been the success of the Sun Smart campaign. Avoiding the sun and the wholesale use of sunscreens is condemning the entire population to lives dogged by ill health.
While the focus of medical attention seems frustratingly fixated on rickets, this disease is the least of the horrific diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency - most cancers for example. Why, oh why, do they keep going on about rickets!!!
If you want to live a life full of beans and disease resistant then get regular exposure of your body to sunlight. During winter and the days that you get no sunlight, take a vitamin D supplement. These supplements are cheap and freely available which might be why you hear so little from medical and pharmaceutical quarters about this extremely important nutrient. This should be supproted by a diet that is generous in fats and oils which the supply the fat soluble vitamins (A, E, D & K). Ooops - like sunlight, these foods are forbidden!
This health message is as important for children as it is for adults.