Old Order Mennonite; Old Order Amish; dietary supplements; vitamin fortification; raw milk; public health policy; sun exposure


The objective was to determine vitamin D status of Old Order Anabaptist children in rural Southwestern, Ontario, Canada, given concerns of community healthcare professionals. Fifty-two children (2.5 months - 6.5 years) (56% female) were recruited. Finger prick blood spot (BSp) samples were analyzed for 25-hydroxy (OH) vitamins D2 & D3 (BSp25(OH)D). Three-day food records were evaluated using Dietary Reference Intakes and Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) (Bush, et al. 2007). Compared to national Canadian data: mean BSp25(OH)D concentrations (78±31 nmol/L) were similar; a slightly smaller proportion (0% vs 2%) were at risk of deficiency (<30 nmol/L) or had inadequate status (4% vs 7%) (<40 nmol/L); and 10% vs 1% had BSp25(OH)D higher than 125 nmol/L. BSp25(OH)D was significantly associated (r2=0.358; p=0.001) with total vitamin D intake. From food alone, vitamin D intake was 68±39 IU/day, lower than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 600 IU/day, and intakes were all below the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) of 400 IU. Even including supplemental vitamin D, 87% were below the EAR (total intake=213±194 IU/day). No children had vitamin D intakes greater than the Upper Limit. Servings of milk and alternates were 1.6±0.8/day (CFG=2/day). Unfortified farm milk was consumed by 88% of children and 89% received a vitamin D supplement. Results were comparable to recent Canadian data suggesting that most children have adequate vitamin D status. Nevertheless, these findings support the need to encourage appropriate vitamin D intake (from food and supplements) to achieve the RDA for Old Order Anabaptist children in these communities. [Abstract by authors.]


To the mothers and children of the Old Order Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities we serve in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.