Vitamin D Deficiency and Its Associated Factors among Female Migrants in the United Arab Emirates

Fatme Al Anouti, Luai A. Ahmed, Azmat Riaz, William B. Grant, Nadir Shah, Raghib Ali, Juma Alkaabi, Syed M. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vitamin D is important for bone health, and vitamin D deficiency could be linked to noncommunicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its associated risk factors among female migrants from Philippines, Arab, and South Asian countries residing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We used a cross-sectional study to recruit a random sample (N = 550) of female migrants aged 18 years and over in the city of Al Ain, UAE. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations ≤20 ng/mL (50 nmol/L). We used multivariable logistic regression analysis to identify risk factors associated with vitamin D deficiency. The mean age of participants was 35 years (SD ± 10). The overall prevalence rate of vitamin D deficiency was 67% (95% CI 60–73%), with the highest rate seen in Arabs (87%), followed by South Asians (83%) and the lowest in Filipinas (15%). Multivariate analyses showed that low physical activity (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 4.59; 95% CI 1.98, 10.63), having more than 5 years duration of residence in the UAE (aOR = 4.65; 95% CI: 1.31, 16.53) and being obese (aOR = 3.56; 95% CI 1.04, 12.20) were independently associated with vitamin D deficiency, after controlling for age and nationality. In summary, vitamin D deficiency was highly prevalent among female migrants, especially Arabs and South Asians. It is crucial that health professionals in the UAE become aware of this situation among this vulnerable subpopulation and provide intervention strategies aiming to rectify vitamin D deficiency by focusing more on sun exposure, physical activity, and supplementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1074
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Female migrants
  • Prevalence
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Vitamin D status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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