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Vitamin D deficiency and disease risk among aboriginal Arctic populations

Sangita Sharma , Alison B Barr , Helen M Macdonald , Tony Sheehy , Rachel Novotny , Andre Corriveau
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00406.x 468-478 First published online: 1 August 2011

Abstract

Aboriginal populations living above the Arctic Circle are at particularly high risk of vitamin D deficiency due to limited ultraviolet B exposure (related to geographic latitude) and inadequate dietary intake (recently related to decreased traditional food consumption). Major changes in diet and lifestyle over the past 50 years in these populations have coincided with increased prevalence rates of rickets, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, each of which may be associated with vitamin D inadequacy. This review examines the risk factors for vitamin D inadequacy, the associations between vitamin D and disease risk at high geographic latitudes, and the recommendations for improving vitamin D status particularly among aboriginal Arctic populations. Traditional foods, such as fatty fish and marine mammals, are rich sources of vitamin D and should continue to be promoted to improve dietary vitamin D intake. Supplementation protocols may also be necessary to ensure adequate vitamin D status in the Arctic.

  • Arctic
  • aboriginal populations
  • chronic disease
  • vitamin D
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