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Vitamin D status and intake of lactating Inuit women living in the Canadian Arctic

  • Jessy El Hayek Fares (a1) (a2) (a3) and Hope A Weiler (a1) (a2)

To determine the prevalence and correlates of healthy vitamin D status in lactating Inuit women living in remote regions of the Arctic.




Households were selected randomly in thirty-six communities of Nunavut, Nunatsiavut and Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Dietary intake was assessed using a 24 h recall and an FFQ. Anthropometric measurements, household living conditions, supplement use and health status were assessed. In fasting samples, serum 25-hydroxyvitaimn D (25(OH)D) was measured using a chemiluminescent assay (LIAISON; Diasorin Inc.).


Lactating Inuit women participating in the 2007–2008 International Polar Year Inuit Health Survey conducted in the months of August to October.


Among participants (n 34), 8·8, 26·5 and 50·0 % had 25(OH)D concentrations at or above 75, 50 and 40 nmol/l, respectively. More than one-third of participants did not consume traditional foods during the previous day and only 11·3 % of total energy intake was derived from traditional foods. Only 14·7 % of the sample consumed the daily number of milk servings recommended by Canada’s Food Guide (two servings) for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Using multivariable logistic regression to examine 25(OH)D≥40 nmol/l, only higher body fat was inversely correlated with 25(OH)D concentration.


The present study is the first to assess simultaneously vitamin D status and other known factors that affect it among lactating Inuit women living in remote communities in the Arctic. Healthy maternal vitamin D status was observed in 25 % of participants during the late summer and early autumn. This requires further assessment in a larger sample spanning more seasons.

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