Background: Recent data indicate a role for vitamin D in many health aspects including anthropometric measures and blood lipid profiles. Dermal vitamin D synthesis may be influenced by latitude. However, the contribution of latitude in vitamin D status and its association with anthropometric and blood lipid measures in Iranian children have not been studied to date.
Methods: We used data from the National Food and Nutritional Surveillance Program. In total, 667 apparently healthy children aged 5–18 years were randomly selected from six provinces of Iran with different latitudes, from 29 to 37°. Weight, height, circulating 25-hydroxycalciferol; calcidiol [25(OH)D] and blood lipids were measured.
Results: In total, 16.7 and 4.1% of children were overweight or obese, respectively. The mean 25(OH)D concentration was 27.3 ± 17.6 nmol/l (95% confidence interval: 26.0–28.7 nmol/l). Over 93% of all children had suboptimal circulating calcidiol concentrations. Undesirable status of vitamin D, serum triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein were all more prevalent in children living in regions >33° latitude than those in <33°, significantly. There was no significant difference in duration of sun exposure between children living in latitudes below and above 33° (p = 0.093). In multivariate regression model, sex, latitude, body mass index for age z-score and sun exposure duration were independently related to 25(OH)D concentrations, but age was not.
Conclusion: Despite significant association of latitude and vitamin D status, hypovitaminosis D is prevalent across latitude gradient in Iranian children. Our findings warrant immediate sustainable nutritional intervention, including supplementation, to protect children from hypovitaminosis D irrespective of the latitude of their residence.