There is reservation about accepting the notion of widespread vitamin D deficiency (VDD) in sunny countries because information base is largely urban indoors, and the cut-off serum 25(OH)D > 75.0 nmol/L to define sufficiency is perceived as high.
We assessed the vitamin D status of subjects engaged in six types of outdoor jobs with freedom to seek shade, when needed.
Descriptive observational study.
A total of 573 outdoors, (hawkers, n = 144; auto-rickshaw drivers, n = 113; manual rickshaw pullers, n = 49; fuel-station attendants, n = 84; gardeners, n = 96; traffic police personnel, n = 87) were assessed for serum 25(OH)D, iPTH and total calcium during summer and winter. Bank employees were indoor controls (n = 72). Serum 25(OH)D was defined as sufficient if ≥50.0 nmol/L and deficient when <30.0 nmol/L, as per 'Institute of Medicine'.
Mean serum 25(OH)D of 573 outdoors was 44.8 ± 19.6 nmol/L and showed a physiological inverse relation with iPTH (P < 0.001). 77.5% of the outdoors did not have VDD. Hawkers, gardeners, fuel-station attendants and rickshaw pullers had sufficient or near sufficient serum 25(OH)D. The mean serum 25(OH)D (30.6 ± 23.2 nmol/L) of indoors though lower by 12.7 nmol/L than outdoors was above the cut-off of VDD. Proportions with supranormal iPTH were comparable between outdoors and indoors (14.0% vs 20.8%). Despite winter dip, the mean serum 25(OH)D (31.2 ± 14.3 nmol/l) of outdoors was not deficient.
Vitamin D deficiency is not universal. Most urban outdoor workers do not have VDD.