Seasonal variation in 25(OH)D at Aberdeen (57°N) and bone health indicators--could holidays in the sun and cod liver oil supplements alleviate deficiency?

Alexandra Mavroeidi, Lorna Aucott, Alison J Black, William D. Fraser, David M Reid, Helen M Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Vitamin D has been linked with many health outcomes. The aim of this longitudinal study, was to assess predictors of seasonal variation of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25(OH)D) (including use of supplements and holidays in sunny destinations) at a northerly latitude in the UK (57°N) in relation to bone health indicators. 365 healthy postmenopausal women (mean age 62.0 y (SD 1.4)) had 25(OH)D measurements by immunoassay, serum C-telopeptide (CTX), estimates of sunlight exposure (badges of polysulphone film), information regarding holidays in sunny destinations, and diet (from food diaries, including use of supplements such as cod liver oil (CLO)) at fixed 3-monthly intervals over 15 months (subject retention 88%) with an additional 25(OH)D assessment in spring 2008. Bone mineral density (BMD) at the lumbar spine (LS) and dual hip was measured in autumn 2006 and spring 2007 (Lunar I-DXA). Deficiency prevalence (25(OH)D<25 nmol/L) was reduced in women who went on holiday to sunny destinations 3 months prior to their visit, compared to women who did not go on holidays [5.4% vs. 24.6% in Spring (p<0.001) and 3.8% vs. 25.6% in Winter (p = 0.001), respectively]. Similarly deficiency was lower amongst those who took CLO supplements compared to women that did not consume these supplements [2.0% vs. 23.7% in Spring (p = 0.001) and 4.5% vs. 24.8% in winter (p = 0.005), respectively]. There was no seasonal variation in CTX; 25(OH)D predicted a small proportion (1.8% variation) of LS BMD in spring 2007 [unstandardized β (SE): 0.039 (0.016), p = 0.017]. Seasonal variation of 25(OH)D had little effect on BMD and no effect on CTX. It appears that small increments in vitamin D (e.g. those that can be achieved by cod liver oil supplements of 5 µg/day) are sufficient to ensure that 25(OH)D is above 25 nmol/L for most people throughout the year. Similarly, holidays in sunny destinations show benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53381
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2013


  • absorptiometry
  • bone density/physiology
  • bone and bones/metabolism
  • cod liver oil/administration & dosage
  • collagen type I/blood
  • dietary supplements
  • female
  • hip/physiology
  • holidays
  • humans
  • longitudinal studies
  • lumbosacral region/physiology
  • middle aged
  • parathyroid hormone/blood
  • peptides/blood
  • postmenopause/blood
  • seasons
  • sunlight
  • United Kingdom
  • vitamin D/analogs & derivatives
  • vitamin D deficiency/prevention & control

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