Background: Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is a global micronutrient issue that commonly occurs in pregnant women, leading to adverse health outcomes. We examined the role of sunlight-related factors and dietary vitamin D intake on vitamin D concentrations among pregnant women in different climate zones. Methods: We conducted a nationwide cross-sectional survey in Taiwan between June 2017 and February 2019. The data of 1502 pregnant women were collected, including sociodemographic information and characteristics related to pregnancy, diet, and sun exposure. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations were measured, and VDD was assessed as a concentration of less than 20 ng/mL. Logistic regression analyses were used to explore the factors associated with VDD. Furthermore, the area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curve was used to analyze the contribution of sunlight-related factors and dietary vitamin D intake to vitamin D status stratified by climate zones. Results: The prevalence of VDD was 30.1% and was the highest in the north. Sufficient intake of red meat (odds ratio (OR): 0.50, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.32–0.75; p = 0.002), vitamin D and/or calcium supplements (OR: 0.51, 95% CI: 0.39–0.66; p < 0.001), sun exposure (OR: 0.75, 95% CI: 0.57–0.98; p = 0.034), and blood draw during sunny months (OR: 0.59, 95% CI: 0.46–0.77; p < 0.001) were associated with a lower likelihood of VDD. Additionally, in northern Taiwan, which is characterized by a subtropical climate, dietary vitamin D intake (AUROC: 0.580, 95% CI: 0.528–0.633) had a greater influence on vitamin D status than did sunlight-related factors (AUROC: 0.536, 95% CI: 0.508–0.589) with a z value = 51.98, p < 0.001. By contrast, sunlight-related factors (AUROC: 0.659, 95% CI: 0.618–0.700) were more important than dietary vitamin D intake (AUROC: 0.617, 95% CI, 0.575–0.660) among women living in tropical areas of Taiwan (z value = 54.02, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Dietary vitamin D intake was essential to alleviate VDD in the tropical region, whereas sunlight-related factors played a greater role in subtropical areas. Safe sunlight exposure and adequate dietary vitamin D intake should be promoted appropriately as a strategic healthcare program.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1182
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentration
  • diet
  • pregnant women
  • sunlight
  • Taiwan
  • vitamin D deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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