Children's vitamin D levels at a shocking low


New findings from a nationwide study have shown that about 70% of children are vitamin D deficient putting them at a higher risk for bone and heart disease. Many adults are also lacking in the vitamin.

About 70 percent of U.S. children have low levels of vitamin D, which puts them at higher risk for bone and heart disease, researchers said today.

"We expected the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency would be high, but the magnitude of the problem nationwide was shocking," said Dr. Juhi Kumar of Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center.

"Several small studies had found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in specific populations of children, but no one had examined this issue nationwide," said study leader Dr. Michal L. Melamed of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

The cause? Poor diet and lack of sunshine, the researchers conclude today in the online version of the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers found that 9 percent, or 7.6 million children across the country, were vitamin D deficient and another 61 percent, or 50.8 million, were vitamin D insufficient.

"Kids have more sedentary lifestyles today and are not spending as much time outdoors," Melamed said. "The widespread use of sunscreens, which block UV-B rays, has only compounded the problem."

Melamed recommends that children should consume more foods rich in vitamin D, such as milk and fish. "But it's very hard to get enough vitamin D from dietary sources alone," she said.

Vitamin D is also widely available in supplement form. It is especially recommended if you are breast feeding or live in the Northern regions where the sun expoure is weaker or in cooler climates. Low vitamin D has also been shown to be reversibly linked to reduced muscle mass and chronic pain syndromes. It is also known to regulates the immune system. Basically, if you replace the vitamin D, the problem goes away.

What else can parents do?"It would good for them to turn off the TV and send their kids outside," Melamed said. "Just 15 to 20 minutes a day should be enough. And unless they burn easily, don't put sunscreen on them until they've been out in the sun for 10 minutes, so they get the good stuff but not sun damage."



Kris said...

Ugh. I just think of when I was a child and we would run around from dawn til dusk. And that was the 80's! Now everyone is afraid and they stay inside with their technology. BOO!

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