Vitamin D status of Irish adults: Findings from the National Adult Nutrition Survey

Kevin D. Cashman*, Siobhan Muldowney, Breige McNulty, Anne Nugent, Anthony P. Fitzgerald, Mairead Kiely, Janette Walton, Michael J. Gibney, Albert Flynn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Previous national nutrition surveys in Irish adults did not include blood samples; thus, representative serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) data are lacking. In the present study, we characterised serum 25(OH)D concentrations in Irish adults from the recent National Adult Nutrition Survey, and determined the impact of vitamin D supplement use and season on serum 25(OH)D concentrations. Of the total representative sample (n 1500, aged 18+ years), blood samples were available for 1132 adults. Serum 25(OH)D was measured via immunoassay. Vitamin D-containing supplement use was assessed by questionnaire and food diary. Concentrations of serum 25(OH)D were compared by season and in supplement users and non-users. Year-round prevalence rates for serum 25(OH)D concentration < 30, < 40, < 50 and < 75 nmol/l were 6·7, 21·9, 40·1 and 75·6 %, respectively (11·1, 31·1, 55·0 and 84·0 % in winter, respectively). Supplement users had significantly higher serum 25(OH)D concentrations compared to non-users. However, 7·5 % of users had winter serum 25(OH)D < 30 nmol/l. Only 1·3 % had serum 25(OH)D concentrations >125 nmol/l. These first nationally representative serum 25(OH)D data for Irish adults show that while only 6·7 % had serum 25(OH)D < 30 nmol/l (vitamin D deficiency) throughout the year, 40·1 % had levels considered by the Institute of Medicine as being inadequate for bone health. These prevalence estimates were much higher during winter time. While vitamin D supplement use has benefits in terms of vitamin D status, at present rates of usage (17·5 % of Irish adults), it will have only very limited impact at a population level. Food-based strategies, including fortified foods, need to be explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1248-1256
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • National nutrition surveys
  • Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Supplements
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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