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Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in UK South Asians but we know very little about the use of vitamin D supplements in this group. In this work we aimed to find out which dietary and lifestyle factors predict who takes a vitamin D supplement and who does not. We used data from the South Asian UK Biobank participants first visit to the Biobank assessment centre. We used data from all 8024 South Asians (Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani).
We found that only 23% of men and 39% of women used a vitamin D supplement. In terms of ethnic sub-group, only 22% of Bangladeshis, 32% of Indians and 25% of Pakistanis used a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D intakes from diet were low at 1.0-3.0 micrograms per day, being highest in Bangladeshis and lowest in Indians. Mathematical modelling showed that females were twice as likely to use a vitamin D supplement than were men. We found that younger persons (40-60 years) were 25% less likely to use a vitamin D supplement than were those over 60 years old. We also found a suggestion that a lower body mass index, living in Greater London, having a higher oily fish intake and higher household income may be associated with being more likely to be a vitamin D supplement user.
Overall we concluded that vitamin D supplements were not used by most South Asians and vitamin D intakes from diet alone are unlikely to ensure good vitamin D health in this group. We now need public health strategies urgently to promote the use of vitamin D supplements in these specific UK South Asian sub-groups.