Most type 1 diabetics in Saudi Arabia may be vitamin D deficient

February 26, 2014

A new study reports that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among Saudi adults with diabetes mellitus type 1 is very high.

The observational study measured blood vitamin D concentrations of 60 patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus and compared them with the levels of 60 healthy participants (1). The study results showed that
the mean vitamin D levels were significantly lower in the diabetic patients than in the healthy participants
(28.1 nmol/L versus 33.4 nmol/L). Among the diabetics, 66.7% were mildly, 31.7% moderately, and
3.3% severely vitamin D deficient as compared with 41.7% (mildly), 31.7% (moderately), and 5% (seve- rely) in the control group. Overall, 100% of the diabetic adults and 78% of the healthy children were vi- tamin D deficient.

The researchers commented that screening for vitamin D deficiency and vitamin D supplementation should be warranted for type 1 diabetics. While several reports showed a higher incidence of vitamin D deficiency in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes, studies examining vitamin D deficiency in adult patients from the Middle East are limited (2-4). Saudi nationals, particularly women, are not exposed to the sunlight long enough to synthesize vitamin D due to the culture requiring clothing to cover most of the body. Furthermore, many young people are not consuming sufficient fresh milk or dairy products fortified with vitamin D. Diabe- tes mellitus type 1 is the most common life-threatening endocrine disorder in children and young adults worldwide and its incidence appears to be increasing.


  1. Vannier S. et al. Can Citrus Ward Off Your Risk of Stroke? American Academy of Neurology. Published online February 2014.
  2. Bin-Abbas B. S. et al. Vitamin D levels in Saudi children with type 1 diabetes. Saudi Med J. 2011; 32:589–592.
  3. Svoren B. M. et al. Significant vitamin D deficiency in youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus. J Pediatr. 2009; 154:132–134.
  4. Munger K. L. et al. Preclinical Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Type 1 Diabetes in a Cohort of US Military Personnel. Am J Epidemiol. 2013; 177:411–419.