British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Determinants of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration in Finnish children: the Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) study

Sonja Soininena1a2a3 c1, Aino-Maija Elorantaa1, Virpi Lindia1, Taisa Venäläinena1a4, Nina Zaproudinaa1a2, Anitta Mahonena5 and Timo A. Lakkaa1a6a7

a1 Institute of Biomedicine, Physiology, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

a2 Institute of Dentistry, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

a3 Social and Health Center, City of Varkaus, Finland

a4 Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

a5 Institute of Biomedicine, Medical Biochemistry, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland

a6 Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland

a7 Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine, Kuopio, Finland


We studied vitamin D intake, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (S-25(OH)D) concentration, determinants of S-25(OH)D and risk factors for S-25(OH)D <50 nmol/l in a population sample of Finnish children. We studied 184 girls and 190 boys aged 6–8 years, analysed S-25(OH)D by chemiluminescence immunoassay and assessed diet quality using 4-d food records and other lifestyle factors by questionnaires. We analysed the determinants of S-25(OH)D using linear regression and risk factors for S-25(OH)D <50 nmol/l using logistic regression. Mean dietary intake of vitamin D was 5·9 (sd 2·1) µg/d. Altogether, 40·8 % of children used no vitamin D supplements. Of all children, 82·4 % did not meet the recommended total vitamin D intake of 10 µg/d. Milk fortified with vitamin D was the main dietary source of vitamin D, providing 48·7 % of daily intake. S-25(OH)D was <50 nmol/l in 19·5 % of children. Consumption of milk products was the main determinant of S-25(OH)D in all children (standardised regression coefficient β=0·262; P<0·001), girls (β=0·214; P=0·009) and boys (β=0·257; P=0·003) in multivariable models. Vitamin D intake from supplements (β=0·171; P=0·035) and age (β=−0·198; P=0·015) were associated with S-25(OH)D in girls. Children who drank ≥450 g/d of milk, spent ≥2·2 h/d in physical activity, had ≥13·1 h/d of daylight time or were examined in autumn had reduced risk for S-25(OH)D <50 nmol/l. Insufficient vitamin D intake was common among Finnish children, one-fifth of whom had S-25(OH)D <50 nmol/l. More attention should be paid to the sufficient intake of vitamin D from food and supplements, especially among children who do not use fortified milk products.

(Received June 05 2015)

(Revised November 10 2015)

(Accepted December 08 2015)

(Online publication February 03 2016)

Key words

  • Vitamin D;
  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D;
  • Children;
  • Determinants


  • 25(OH)D:25-hydroxyvitamin D


c1 Corresponding author: Dr S. Soininen, fax +35 817 162 131, email