An Assessment of Calcium and Vitamin D Intakes of Females Aged Between Fifteen and Eighteen Years with an Exploration into Potential Factors behind Low Intakes.
(2016) An Assessment of Calcium and Vitamin D Intakes of Females Aged Between Fifteen and Eighteen Years with an Exploration into Potential Factors behind Low Intakes., no. 34.
Introduction: Calcium plays a key role in a number of life sustaining bodily functions and is of great importance for bone health. Vitamin D facilitates absorption of calcium in the body and both nutrients assist in the achievement of peak bone mass (PBM). Adolescence provides window of opportunity for maximising attainment of PBM which can decrease the risk of osteoporosis in later life. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme (NDNS RP), along with various other studies, have found dietary calcium and vitamin D intakes to be low within adolescent females. Few studies have explored factors which may contribute to poor intakes. Objectives: This study aimed to assess dietary calcium and vitamin D intakes of female Islay High School students aged 15-18 years and thus add to the current body of evidence surrounding intakes of these nutrients within Scottish adolescent females. Intakes were compared to the dietary reference values (DRV) along with results from the NDNS RP. The present study also aimed to give an insight into potential factors which may contribute to poor intakes within this gender and age group. Methods: Four-day diet diaries and a questionnaire were used as a method of data collection for this study. Dietary intakes were assessed using NetWisp. Results: No significant differences were found between participant (n=13) intakes of calcium and vitamin D with those recorded in the NDNS RP. The main sources of nutrients, however, differed to the NDNS RP with milk and milk products providing the largest proportion of dietary calcium (77%) and cereals and cereal products vitamin D (31%). The mean calcium intake, 600±195mg/day, was significantly lower (p<0.05) than the RNI of 800mg/day and 23% of participants had intakes below the LRNI. Vitamin D intakes averaged at 2.9±3.2μ/day and 8% (n=1) achieved an intake of over 10μ/day with the aid of supplementation. Eighty-five percent of participants regarded calcium and vitamin D as important nutrients but only 38% were aware of one or more of their functions. One-hundred percent were aware of calcium rich food sources but only 23% were aware of foods containing vitamin D. Thirty-eight percent reported not drinking milk due to disliking the taste. Sixty-nine percent reported that they would be likely to increase consumption of calcium and vitamin D following an education session with a health care professional. Conclusion: As with previous studies it was found that 15-18 year old females had significantly low calcium and vitamin D intakes when compared to the DRVs. Mean intakes were not significantly different to those observed in the NDNS RP, but the main sources of nutrients differed. Most participants stated that they would improve their intakes of calcium and vitamin D following an education session from a health care professional. Areas identified for education included the role of calcium and vitamin D in bone health, dairy-alternative sources of calcium, sources of vitamin D and ways of achieving RNIs. Future study into calcium and vitamin D intakes of female adolescents prior to and following education from a health care professional may be beneficial in order to assess this as a public health intervention. Key Words: Calcium, Vitamin D, Female Adolescents, Diet Diary, DRV, NDNS RP