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6 Million U.S. Kids Deficient In Vitamin D Study Finds

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, October 26, 2009 1:21 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Vitamin D, Pediatrics, Harvard, Sunshine, Supplements, Vitamins

The majority of children have a suboptimal level of vitamin D, thought to fight cancer, the flu and keep the heart, the immune system and the bones healthy.

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IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockPhoto/ girl in meadow/ author: arphotokike


Suboptimal Levels

At least 20 percent of U.S. children, ages one through 11, do not get enough vitamin D, according to a national analysis. That translates to more than six million U.S. kids.

Increasingly, the vitamin is being praised for its ability to fight cancer, diabetes, to create strong bones, and a healthy immune system.

Many recommend it to increase immunity to the swine flu virus.

The analysis, published in the journal Pediatrics, was conducted out of Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Lead author, Dr. Jonathan Mansbach, says the study should serve as a call to action.

This is the first assessment of vitamin D and levels in young children using data from a government health survey of almost 5,000 children under the age of 12, taken from 2001 to 2006.

Among the findings - almost 90 percent of African-American children and 80 percent of Latino kids could be deficient in vitamin D.

A study from March also found half of black teenagers may be lacking in vitamin D.

"Given the preponderance of data and the safety profile of vitamin D, we believe many U.S. children would likely benefit from more vitamin D," Dr. Mansbach said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has begun studying the role of vitamin D in protection against the swine flu.

And the Vitamin D Council purports that influenza is a symptom of vitamin D deficiency.

The Institute of Medicine is expected to issue a report on vitamin D next year which will help set dietary standards.

What Level?

The daily amount of vitamin D is subject to debate but for the study less than the recommended 50 mnol/L (nanomoles per liter) level of vitamin D was considered deficient. Naturally, it comes from exposure to unprotected skin to the sunshine.

Less than half of the children in the survey were taking a multivitamin that can include some vitamin D.

Using sun as a source, exposure to skin without sun screen is recommended for at least 15 minutes daily, but experts say that the UVB rays in the Northeast during the winter are insufficient for vitamin D production.

Few foods contain the vitamin. Eggs and fortified foods such as dairy have some vitamin D added.

Supplementation levels have been suggested at between 800 IU to 2,000 IU daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IU of vitamin D daily.

Dr. Michael F. Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics and director of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine, said that "we estimate that vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical condition in the world."

He tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that children should take a vitamin D supplement at about 400 IU a day up to the age of 1. Young children should up intake to 1,000 IU daily, and teens up to 2,000 IU a day.

He says he would prefer to see the first year of life recommendation raised to 5,000 IU daily and 10,000 IU for adults. #


5 Comments

Anonymous User
Posted by Pete
Monday, October 26, 2009 4:15 PM EST

It is not 20% it is over 70% who have low vitamin d, 20% are close to getting rickets. The northern measurements were made in the summer! The lowest levels will occur in the winter/spring, so it is worse than it looks.

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, October 26, 2009 4:39 PM EST

Researchers find 6.3 million kids in the U.S. - almost one in five - were at less than the recommended 50 nmol/L level of vitamin D.

You are correct in that far more, two-thirds, of children (24 million)have vit. D levels below 75 nmol/L. That includes 80 percent of Hispanic children, 92 percent of black children and 59 percent of white children according to Mansbach.

Thanks for commenting!

Anonymous User
Posted by Pete
Monday, October 26, 2009 5:39 PM EST

I would agree that adults should be taking 5,000IU to 10,000IU a day (A number of friends and myself have taken this level for about 2 years, there is no sign of overdose). It does, however, does wonders for your blood pressure and general resistance to illness. It is also the only treatment I know of that works for mouth ulcers. I am told it also works for leg ulcers.

Children probably need about 1000IU D3 per day per 25lbs body weight, but it may be higher as they are creating bone and so may have a higher consumption.

Posted by Russ
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 9:59 AM EST

I find it most disturbing that current medical and lay literature sources are bursting at the seams with convincing evidence of the far-reaching benefits of the hormone we call vitamin D, and yet the FNB at NIH has not updated their recommendations for daily vitamin D supplements since the one they published in 1997. That recommendation was for 200, 400, or 600 i.u. daily, depending on one's age.

In fact, the NIH held a conference of experts in August of this summer, but won't share the decisions made at that meeting until next spring. In the meanwhile, an uninformed public will likely pay the consequences of their "thumb-twiddling".

After a good bit of study on this topic during the past 2 years, it's my opinion that an adult should receive a MINIMUM of 2000 i.u. vitamin D daily, and 4000 to 5000 i.u. is probably closer to their real need for optimal health outcomes.

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 12:02 PM EST

Thanks Russ-

And vitamin D is fairly easy to take unlike the horse tablets that contain the other vitamins we should be taking, speaking for myself now..

thanks for commenting

Comments for this article are closed.

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