British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Determinants of vitamin D status in pregnant fair-skinned women in Sweden

Petra Brembecka1 c1, Anna Winkvista1 and Hanna Olaussona1

a1 Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Box 459, 40530 Göteborg, Sweden


Low maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy may have negative consequences for both mother and child. There are few studies of vitamin D status and its determinants in pregnant women living at northern latitudes. Thus, the present study investigates vitamin D status and its determinants during the third trimester of women living in Sweden (latitudes 57–58°N). A total of ninety-five fair-skinned pregnant women had blood taken between gestational weeks 35 and 37. The study included a 4 d food diary and questionnaires on dietary intake, supplement use, sun exposure, skin type, travels to southern latitudes and measure of BMI. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) was analysed using the chemiluminescence immunoassay. In the third trimester of pregnancy, mean serum concentration of 25(OH)D was 47·4 (sd 18·1) nmol/l (range 10–93 nmol/l). In total, 65 % of women had serum 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/l and 17 % < 30 nmol/l. During the winter, 85 % of the pregnant women had serum 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/l and 28 % < 30 nmol/l. The main determinants of vitamin D status were as follows: season; use of vitamin D supplements; travels to southern latitudes. Together, these explained 51 % of the variation in 25(OH)D. In conclusion, during the winter, the majority of fair-skinned pregnant women had serum 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/l in their third trimester and more than every fourth woman < 30 nmol/l. Higher vitamin D intake may therefore be needed during the winter for fair-skinned pregnant women at northern latitudes to avoid vitamin D deficiency.

(Received June 15 2012)

(Revised November 02 2012)

(Accepted November 30 2012)

(Online publication February 07 2013)

Key Words:

  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Dietary intake;
  • Sun exposure


c1 Corresponding author: P. Brembeck, fax +46 31 786 3101, email


  Abbreviations: 25(OH)D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D; PAL, physical activity level; PTH, parathyroid hormone