Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is widespread in Scotland

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 26 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1451
  1. Helga M Rhein, general practitioner
  1. 1Sighthill Health Centre, Edinburgh EH11 4AU
  1. helga.rhein{at}

I agree with Holick1 and Sievenpiper et al2 about the urgent need to highlight the neglected subject of vitamin D deficiency in the United Kingdom. We have found in our general practice in Edinburgh a (to us) surprisingly high prevalence of gross vitamin D deficiency. The deficiency affects not only our South Asian patients but also a considerable number of those with white skin colour.

Between 2005 and 2007, blood samples were taken from 99 patients aged 15-85. We included patients suspected of having a possible vitamin D deficiency: patients of South Asian origin or other ethnic minorities, patients with vague musculoskeletal symptoms or overweight, patients taking antiepileptic drugs, patients using sunscreen or make up, housebound patients, and patients with little exposure to sunlight. The figure shows our as yet unpublished results.


Vitamin D concentrations in 99 patients aged 15-85 with suspected vitamin D deficiency by ethnic group

According to the definitions of most vitamin D researchers, insufficient vitamin D concentrations are those below 75 nmol/l. In our sample only 2% had a sufficient vitamin D concentration. Measurements below 25 nmol/l are defined as severe deficiency; in our sample, the proportion was 47%.

Hyppoenen and Power reported similar figures for Scotland.3


  • Competing interests: None declared.


View Abstract