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Open Access Highly Accessed Short Report

Awareness of vitamin D deficiency among at-risk patients

Esubalew Alemu1* and Robert Varnam2

Author Affiliations

1 Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, Sharoe Green Lane, Preston PR2 9HT, UK

2 The Robert Darbishire Practice,Rusholme Health Centre, Walmer Street, Rusholme, Manchester M14 5NP, UK

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:17  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-17

Published: 9 January 2012

Abstract

Background

Vitamin D deficiency is a significant problem for a growing proportion of the UK population. Individuals with dark or covered skin are at particularly high risk due to ethno-cultural, environmental and genetic factors. We assessed the level of awareness of vitamin D deficiency among at-risk patients in order to identify groups most in need of education.

Findings

A cross-sectional survey using a piloted questionnaire was conducted among consecutive at-risk patients without a diagnosis of Vitamin D deficiency arriving at a large inner city general practice in the North West of England over a five day period. The survey was completed by 221 patients. The mean age was 35 years. 28% of them (n = 61) had never heard about vitamin D. Older patients (p = 0.003) were less likely to have heard about vitamin D. 54% of participants were unaware of the commonest symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. 34% did not expose their skin other than their face in the last one year, and 11% did not include vitamin D rich foods in their diet.

Conclusion

The majority of at-risk patients are aware of vitamin D; nevertheless, there is a significant lack of knowledge among older people, who have higher morbidity. A programme of targeted education of the at-risk population is recommended.