Vitamin D deficiency and inadequacy in a correctional population

Elizabeth T. Jacobs, Charles J. Mullany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Objectives: Adequate nutrition among inmates at correctional facilities may prevent a variety of diseases and conditions. Vitamin D is a nutrient of particular interest to incarcerated populations; however, research in this area is sparse. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess vitamin D status among inmates in a prison in southern Arizona, a sun-replete region of the United States. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol [25(OH)D] among short-term (group 1; <6wk; n=29) and long-term (group 2; >1y; n=30) inmates at The Fourth Avenue Jail in Maricopa County (Phoenix) Arizona. Results: The long-term inmates in group 2 had statistically significantly lower levels of 25(OH)D (13.9±6.3ng/mL) compared with group 1 (25.9±12.4; P<0.0001). Defining vitamin D deficiency as circulating concentrations of 25(OH)D<20ng/mL, 37.9% of inmates in group 1 and 90% of those in group 2 were deficient. After adjusting for body mass index and age, the odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for deficiency in group 2 was 18.7 (4.1-84.9) compared with group1. Conclusions: This study demonstrates the presence of vitamin D deficiency at the Fourth Avenue Jail in Maricopa County, Arizona, particularly among inmates who have been housed at the facility for >1y. Because marked vitamin D deficiency is associated with a myriad of adverse health outcomes, consideration should be given to providing dietary or supplemental vitamin D to inmates at correctional facilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-663
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2015


  • Arizona
  • Correctional facility
  • Deficiency
  • Jail
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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