Child Health 7 out of 10 US Children Low in Vitamin D
Posted Aug 04 2009 5:36pm
By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist
Once previously thought to only maintain bone health by regulating calcium status, recent research has found vitamin D does a lot more than boost bones. For the past several years, vitamin D has been one of the most popular vitamins studied, largely because so little was known about it and many people are deficient. Children are particularly at risk for vitamin D deficiency and a recent study found that a shocking number of children are indeed deficient.
Published in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics, the study found that approximately 7 out of 10 children are deficient in vitamin D. Researchers had anticipated a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, but the reflection of the numbers nationwide was shocking.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University researchers analyzed data from 6,000 children aged 1 through 21. The information was gathered for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2004. Nine percent of the sample study, which equates to about 7.6 million US children, was deficient in vitamin D and another 61%, or 50.8 million children was vitamin D insufficient.
Deficient was defined as less than 15ng/mL of blood and insufficient meant between 15ng/ML to 29ng/ML of blood. Low vitamin d levels were most common in children who were female, older, Mexican-American, African-American, drank milk less than once a week, obese, or spent more than 4 hours a day in front of a screen including TV, computers, or videogames.
The danger, as the study revealed, is that low vitamin D levels are associated with poor bone health, high blood pressure, low calcium levels, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels - all which are key factors for heart disease risk. The authors recommend that health care providers provide routine screening for vitamin D levels in children and that parents should ensure their kids are getting ample vitamin D through sun exposure, diet, and supplements.