Genetics, diet, and season are associated with serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol concentration in a Yup'ik study population from southwestern Alaska

Alison E. Fohner, Zhican Wang, Joseph Yracheta, Diane M. O'Brien, Scarlett E. Hopkins, Jynene Black, Jacques Philip, Howard W. Wiener, Hemant K. Tiwari, Patricia L. Stapleton, Jesse M. Tsai, Timothy A. Thornton, Bert B. Boyer, Kenneth E. Thumme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Lowblood vitamin D concentration is a concern for people living in circumpolar regions, where sunlight is insufficient for vitamin D synthesis in winter months and the consumption of traditional dietary sources of vitamin D is decreasing. Objective: The objective was to characterize the effects of diet, genetic variation, and season on serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol [25(OH)D3] concentrations in Yup'ik Alaska Native people living in rural southwest Alaska. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional design that assessed the associations of traditional diet (via a biomarker, the RBC δ15N value), age, gender, body mass index (BMI), community location, and genotype of select single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in cytochrome P450 family 2, subfamily R, peptide 1 (CYP2R1), 7-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR7), and vitamin D binding protein (GC) with serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations in 743 Yup'ik male and female participants, aged 14-93 y, recruited between September 2009 and December 2013. Results: Yup'ik participants, on average, had adequate concentrations of serum 25 (OH)D3 (31.16 1.0 ng/mL). Variations in diet, BMI, age, gender, season of sample collection, and inland or coastal community geography were all significantly associatedwith serum 25(OH)D3 concentration. In models not adjusting for other covariates, age, diet, and seasonal effects explained 33.7%, 20.7%, and 9.8%, respectively, of variability in serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations. Of the 8 SNPs interrogated in CYP2R1 and DHCR7, only rs11023374 in CYP2R1 was significantly associated with serum 25(OH)D3, explaining 1.5% of variability. The GC haplotype explained an additional 2.8% of variability. Together, age, diet, gender, season of sample collection, BMI, geography of the community, and genotype at rs11023374 explained 52.5% of the variability in serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations. Conclusions: Lower consumption of the traditional diet was associated with lower serum concentrations of 25(OH)D3. Younger adults and youth in this community may be at increased risk of adverse outcomes associated with vitamin D insufficiency compared with older members of the community, especially during seasons of low sunlight exposure, because of lower consumption of dietary sources of vitamin D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-325
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Alaska Native
  • American Indian
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid
  • Public health
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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