Assessment of supplement use (including vitamin D) in Inuvialuit adults in the Northwest Territories, Canada



S. Sharma, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2T4, Canada.

Tel.: +1 780 492 3214

Fax: +1 780 492 3018




Inuvialuit of Arctic Canada are at high risk for inadequate vitamin D status as a result of rapid dietary transitions and a lack of solar ultraviolet B exposure. This may have implications for the development of adverse skeletal diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Data are limited regarding supplement use in Arctic Aboriginal populations. The present study aimed to describe the type and extent of supplement use, emphasising vitamin D, and to identify differences between supplement users and non-users.


Supplement information was collected from a population-specific quantitative food frequency questionnaire in three communities in the Northwest Territories, Canada, as part of a cross-sectional study. Data were analysed for frequency of supplementation and types of supplements. Users and non-users were compared in terms of age, sex, body mass index, education, marital status, income support, employment and chronic disease diagnosis using nonparametric tests and the chi-squared test.


Response rates ranged from 65% to 85%. Included in the analysis were 192 Inuvialuit (45 males, 147 females) with a mean (SD) age of 43.6 (13.9) years. Twenty-three percent reported using a supplement, with multivitamins being the most common. Three percent indicated taking a vitamin D-containing supplement. No significant differences between supplement users and non-users were found.


Despite limited sun exposure for many months of the year, a small proportion of Inuvialuit adults were using supplements, and specifically vitamin D-containing supplements. Future population-based intervention strategies should promote consumption of vitamin D rich foods and encourage the use of vitamin D supplements if diet alone is unable to meet recommendations.