Background: Vitamin D has been known since the twentieth Century for its benefits in bone health. Recent observational studies have demonstrated its benefits in infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. This has led to a dramatic increase in testing among adults. The cut-offs for vitamin D deficiency have been debated for decades and the current cut off is derived from a Caucasian population. Studies done among black African adults in Africa are few with vitamin D deficiency ranging from 5 to 91%. A few cut- offs have correlated vitamin D deficiency to physiological markers such as parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcium and phosphate with varying results. Methods: This was a cross sectional study carried out among blood donors at Aga Khan University hospital, Nairobi (AKUHN) from March to May 2015. Vitamin D (25(OH)D) levels were assayed and correlated with PTH, calcium and phosphate. Results: A total of 253 individuals were included in the final analysis. The proportion of study participants who had a 25(OH) D level of < 20 ng/ml thus classified as vitamin D deficient was 17.4% (95% C.I 12.73-22.07). The 25(OH) D level that coincided with a significant increase in PTH was 30 ng/ml. Males were less likely to be vitamin D deficient (O.R 0.48 (C.I 0.233-0.993) p 0.04). Sunshine exposure for ≥3 h per day reduced the odds of being Vitamin D deficient though this was not statistically significant after multivariate regression analysis. Conclusions: We found a much lower prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency compared to many similar studies carried out in sub-Saharan Africa possibly due to the recruitment of healthy individuals and the proximity of Nairobi to the equator which allows for considerable exposure to sunshine. Vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL was associated with a significant rise in PTH levels, suggesting that this cut off could be appropriate for defining Vitamin D deficiency in the population served by our laboratory.
- Vitamin D deficiency