Published: 2019-11-25

Evaluation of knowledge of vitamin D aspects among pharmacy and engineering students in University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Suleiman I. Sharif, Salma Ibrahim, Asma Mohammad, Ghazal Matini, Rawan S. Sharif


Background: Vitamin D plays a major role in health. Several health disorders have been associated with its deficiency. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the knowledge of and attitude towards vitamin D of pharmacy and engineering students in the University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted during February-April, 2018. A 30 questions survey in English was designed, pre-validated and distributed to 250 students. The questionnaire was designed to evaluate and compare student’s knowledge and awareness of vitamin D.

Results: 213 participants completed the survey producing a response rate of 85.2%. The majority of students were Arabs, females and of age ranging 21-23 years. Almost all pharmacy students were familiar with many aspects of vitamin D. Unlike engineering (66; 66.6%), most (113; 99.1%) pharmacy students know the meaning of osteoporosis. Knowledge of pharmacy students on vitamin D was generally better than that of engineering students particularly with questions on technical parameters of vitamin D levels and dosage. Students who took vitamin D test were advised by a physician. Most of the students from both colleges have a positive attitude to receive information on vitamin D through brochures, lectures/seminars and workshops.

Conclusions: Awareness of non-health sciences and to some extent of pharmacy students seems to be inadequate and efforts are needed to increase awareness of the public in general of the importance of vitamin to health status.


Knowledge, Attitude, Pharmacy, Engineering, Vitamin D, Deficiency

Full Text:



Holon R, Byers M, Walker BR, Summerton C. Environmental and nutritional factors in diseases. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. In: Walker B, Colledge NR, Ralston S, Penman I, eds. 22nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone; 2014.

Holick MF. Evolution, biologic functions, and recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D. In: Holick MF, ed. Vitamin D: physiology, molecular biology and clinical applications. Clifton, NJ: Humana Press; 1999: 1–16.

Bischoff HA, Stahelin HB, Urscheler N, Ehrsam R, Vonthein R, Perrig-Chiello P, et al. Muscle strength in the elderly: its relation to vitamin D metabolites. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1999;80(1):54–8.

Hernan MA, Olek MJ, Ascherio A. Geographic variation of MS incidence in two prospective studies of US women. Neurol. 1999;53(8):1711–8.

Pittas AG, Harris SS, Stark PC, Dawson-Hughes B. The effects of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on blood glucose and markers of inflammation in non-diabetic adults. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(4):980–6.

Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.

Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1174-180.

Whiting SJ, Langlois KA, Vatanparast H, Greene-Finestone LS. The vitamin D status of Canadians relative to the 2011DietaryReference Intakes: an examination in children and adults with and without supplement use. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94(1):128-35.

Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Gordon CM, Hanley DA, Heaney RP, et al. Endocrine Society. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(7):1911–30.

Cranney A, Horsley T, O'Donnell S, Weiler H, Puil L, Ooi D, et al. Effectiveness and safety of vitamin D in relation to bone health, Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep). 2007;158:1-235.

Mawer EB, Davies M. Vitamin D nutrition and bone disease in adults. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2001;2(2):153–64.

Rizzoli R, Bonjour J. Dietary protein and bone health. J Bone Miner Res. 2004;19(4):527–31.

Luqman M, Kousar NA, Abid SM. Prevalence of vitamin-d deficiency in patients presenting with musculoskeletal manifestations in medical OPD of CMH Lahore. J Pak OrthopAssoc. 2012;24:50-6.

Chan SP, Scott BB, Sen SS. An Asian viewpoint on the use of vitamin D and calcium in osteoporosis treatment: physician and patient attitude and beliefs. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorder. 2010;11:248.

Uddin R, Huda NH, Jhanker YM, Jesmeen T, Imam MZ, Akter S. Awareness regarding the importance of calcium and vitamin D among the undergraduate pharmacy students in Bangladesh. BMC Res Notes. 2013;6:134.

Boland S, Irwin JD, Johnson AM. A survey of university students’ vitamin D –related knowledge. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015;47(1): 99-103.

Fuleihan GE. Vitamin D deficiency in the Middle East and its health consequences. In: Holick MF, ed. Vitamin D: physiology, molecular biology, and clinical applications. Clifton, NJ: Humana Press; 2010: 469–494.

Gannage-Yared MH, Chemali R, Yaacoub N, Halaby G. Hypovitaminosis D in a sunny country: relation to lifestyle and bone markers. J Bone Miner Res. 2000;15(9):1856–62.

Rostand SG. Ultraviolet light may contribute to geographic and racial blood pressure differences. Hypertens. 1997;30:150–6.

Salamoun MM, Kizirian AS, Tannous RI, Nabulsi MM, Choucair MK, Deeb ME, et al. Low calcium and vitamin D intake in healthy children and adolescents and their correlates. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005;59(2):177–84.

Bassir M, Laborie S, Lapillonne A, Claris O, Chappuis MC, Salle BL. Vitamin D deficiency in Iranian mothers and their neonates: a pilot study. Acta Paediatr. 2001;90(5):577-9.

Ainy E, Ghazi AAM, Azizi F. Changes in calcium, 25(OH) vitamin D3 and other biochemical factors during pregnancy. J Endocrinol Invest. 2006;29(4):303-7.

Molla AM, Al Badawi M, Hammoud MS, Molla AM, Shukkur M, Thalib L, et al. Vitamin D status of mothers and their neonates in Kuwait. Pediatr Int. 2005;47(6):649-52.

Serenius F, Elidrissy ATH, Dandona P. Vitamin D nutrition in pregnant women at term and in newly born babies in Saudi-Arabia. J Clin Pathol. 1984;37(4):444-7.