Knowledge Regarding Vitamin D Among Private University Students in Malaysia

Research Article

Ann Nutr Disord & Ther. 2014;1(2): 1008.

Knowledge Regarding Vitamin D Among Private University Students in Malaysia

Audrey Sharmaine A/P Rajaretnam1, Mohammed A Abdalqader2*, Hasanain Faisal Ghazi2, Tiba Nezar Hasan2 and Maher D Fuad Fuad1

1International Medical School, Management and Science University, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia

2Department of Community Health, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Malaysia

*Corresponding author: Mohammed A AbdalQader, Department of Community Health, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre, Bandar TunRazak, Cheras, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Received: July 18, 2014; Accepted: August 25, 2014; Published: August 26, 2014


Background: Vitamin D is known as the sunlight vitamin which mainly helps in bone metabolism and calcium homeostasis. It is estimated that one billion people have vitamin D deficiency and it is considered as a public health problem. The purpose of this study is to explore the knowledge among students regarding vitamin D and its associated factors.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 360 private university students using self- administered questionnaires regarding vitamin D Knowledge on aspects of vitamin D sources, health benefits, factors of vitamin D deficiency and recommended intakes and some others.

Results: Females were more predominant in this study (69.4 %). Most students are aware and have good knowledge regarding vitamin D with male having a higher knowledge compared to female. Besides that, 69% of them agreed that vitamin D main source is the sun. only 11.1 % know the correct answer regarding the recommended daily dosage of vit. D which is 600 IU per day.

Conclusion: Results acquired have shown some understanding towards the insight of vitamin D among university students. Implementing campaigns and future health programs to the public helps building more awareness and knowledge about vitamin D importance.

Keywords: Vitamin D; Vitamin D-related knowledge; Malaysia; University students


Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. It is one of the oldest hormone that have been made in the earliest life forms for over 750 million years. Phytoplankton, zooplankton and most plants and animals that are exposed to sunlight have capacity for producing vitamin D [1]. It is an essential steroid involved in bone metabolism, cell growth, differentiation, and regulation of the minerals in the body [2]. Vitamin D is unique, in terms of its metabolism and physiological features and the human reliance on both endogenous production (exposure to UV light) and exogenous sources (diet mainly fortified foods) to meet biological requirements [3].

There are some factors in human that affects the amount of vitamin D production in sunshine months. It is important that it is not just where you live that influences how much vitamin D you can make from the sun while other factors also come into play (Take Vitamin). Astronomical factors that govern the Solar Zenith Angle (SZA), and the local state of the atmosphere, available solar UV radiation, skin pigmentation and age, determining competing absorbers of UV radiation, individual behavior to local environment and exposure of unprotected skin available UV radiation [4].

Micka [5] stated that there is an increasing interest in the role and the importance of vitamin D in global public health. There is a growing awareness that vitamin D sufficiency is required for optimal health. The role of vitamin D in calcium absorption and metabolism for bone health is well known [6]. Also, vitamin D plays an undeniably important role in maintenance of bone status, preventing the development of rickets and osteomalacia [7]. Research illustrated the importance of vitamin D in numerous chronic diseases including cancers, heart diseases, Multiple Sclerosis, and Diabetes type 1 and 2 [8]. There needs to be a better appreciation about the importance of vitamin D for overall health and well being [1].

Moreover, much attention has focused on the positive health benefits of vitamin D beyond its established role in calcium homeostasis. Epidemiology has highlighted the link between vitamin D deficiency and prevalent diseases such as common cancers and autoimmune diseases. Studies in vitro have shown that the active form of vitamin D is a potent anti-proliferative and immunosuppressive agent. However, there is also other non-calcemic effects than the normal calcium and bone homeostasis of vitamin D that are dependent on extra-renal synthesis of active vitamin D via the enzyme 1a-hydroxylase at barrier sites throughout the body [9].

As Moreover, we know that sunlight is the main risk factor for melanoma in the world. Therefore, sun exposure is not a preferred way to uptake VitD worldwide. Very few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, so the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and vitamin supplements. Good sources include dairy products and breakfast cereals (both of which are fortified with vitamin D), and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna [10].

Although vitamin D toxicity is a rare condition but it can occur when highly excessive amounts of vitamin D are taken [11]. According to the Institute of Medicine in United States [12], people (aged 1-70 years) should not consume more than 4000 IU per day, as it could lead to potential adverse effects such as hypercalcemia and hyperphosphatemia.

First and foremost, in conducting this study, one should have to know that university students are those most at risk and at a domain age of developing lifelong health behaviors’ that leads to long-term effects of health. Despite that, low vitamin D status has been associated with the development of rickets and osteomalacia, and has been considered to lead to bone loss, fractures and falls [13]. Vit. D Deficiency remains common in children and in adult. In-utero and during childhood, it can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities and may increase the risk of hip fracture in later life. While in adults, muscle weakness and increase the risk of fracture [10].

In recent years, a high prevalence of Vit. D Deficiency among children and adolescent has been reported in countries with moderate climates. Those with an immigrant background living under these conditions are at high risk especially the country Germany [14]. VDD is widespread in both men and women born in Turkey, Sri Lanka, Iran, Pakistan and Vietnam living in Oslo. The knowledge is higher among women than among men, and it is highest in women born in Pakistan [15]. The male immigrants with a Turkish or Arab-Islamic background had an increased risk of having 25(OH) D concentrations <25nmol/L compared with non-immigrants [14].


A cross sectional study was conducted among 360 students at private university within four months duration in 2013. Convenient Sampling method was used in this study. A self- administered questionnaires was developed to assess knowledge related to vitamin D among private university students.

The questionnaires were consisted of part A about socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents and part B about vit D knowledge, such as the main sources of vit. D, the daily recommended dosage of vit. D, the average time needed to spend under sun to get the recommended dosage of vit. D and percentage of Malaysia suffering from vit. D insufficiency.

The data was analyzed using IBM Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) software made for Windows Version 20.0. A consent form was signed by all participants before answering the questionnaires.


Females were more predominant in this study (69.4 %), also the most participant were from the age group 21-25 years old (61.2%) followed by 16-20 years old group. The most common monthly income was more than 4000 ringgit Malaysian (35.5%) as shown in Table 1. Most of the Participant (50.8 %) were from medical school followed by 32.8% from Faculty of Business Management and Professional Studies , 6.7% from faculty of health & life science and (4.7) % from School of Education & Social Sciences.