Body mass but not vitamin D status is associated with bone mineral content and density in young school children in northern Sweden

  • Frida K. Videhult Umeå University, Clinical sciences, Pediatrics
  • Inger Öhlund
  • Olle Hernell
  • Christina E. West
Keywords: Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, season, latitude, diet, calcium, body mass


Background: High latitude of residence where sun exposure is limited affects vitamin D status. Although vitamin D levels have been associated with poor bone health, cut-off values for optimising bone health are yet to be decided.

Objective: To assess vitamin D intake and status among young school children living at latitude 63–64 °N, in northern Sweden and to examine the association between vitamin D status and bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD).

Design: In a cross-sectional study, diet was assessed by a 4-day food diary and a food frequency questionnaire in 8- to 9-year-old children (n=120). Energy, vitamin D, and calcium intakes were calculated. Physical activity was assessed using a pedometer for 7 days. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (S-25[OH]D) levels were analysed by high-pressure liquid chromatography-atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation-mass spectrometry (n=113). BMC and BMD were assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scan. Height and weight were measured by standard procedures and BMI z-score was calculated using WHO AnthroPlus programme.

Results: The majority of children, 91%, did not reach the recommended vitamin D intake of 7.5 µg/day and 50% had insufficient S-25[OH]D levels defined as <50 nmol/l. The highest concentrations of S-25[OH]D were observed during the summer months (p=0.01). Body mass (p<0.01) but not S-25[OH]D was associated with measures of BMC and BMD. Furthermore, boys had higher total BMC (p=0.01), total body less head BMC (p=0.02), fat free mass (p<0.01), and a higher degree of physical activity (p=0.01) compared to girls.

Conclusions: Body mass was related to BMC and BMD measures in a population of prepubertal school children living at high latitudes in Sweden. Despite insufficient S-25[OH]D levels and low vitamin D intake, this did not appear to affect bone parameters. Prospective studies with repeated assessment of vitamin D status are needed to examine cut-off values for optimising bone health.

Keywords: dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA); serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D; season; latitude; diet; calcium

(Published: 3 March 2016)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2016, 60: 30045 -


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How to Cite
Videhult F. K., Öhlund I., Hernell O., & West C. E. (2016). Body mass but not vitamin D status is associated with bone mineral content and density in young school children in northern Sweden. Food & Nutrition Research, 60.
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