A new study has found that around 20 percent of children ages 1 to 11 are lacking in vitamin D. These kids could be vulnerable to several different types of health problems such as weak bones.
A rougher estimate claims that an astounding 90 percent of black children and 80 percent of Hispanic kids in that age range could be deficient in vitamin D. Lead author of the new analysis and a researcher at Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital in Boston, Dr. Jonathan Mansbach, says these percentages are a definite call for action.
These current findings build on the already existing mountain of evidence concerning vitamin D deficiency in children, teens and adults. The latest studies indicate that vitamin D could even prevent dangerous diseases like diabetes and some cancers.
It is still not known if low levels of vitamin D can lead to disease or if higher levels can prevent it. This is still a developing sector of research. Doctors are different in their suggestions on this subject and most are anticipating guidance from the Institute of Medicine report on vitamin D that is due sometime next year. This institute is a government advisory group that sets dietary standards.
This new analysis is the earliest assessment of different vitamin D levels in children ranging in age from 1 to 11. It was released online October 26 by the journal of Pediatrics. Earlier studies in the journal this year discovered that low levels were widespread in U.S. teens and revealed that kids with scant levels had elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels and were often overweight. Data for this analysis was taken from a 2001-06 government health survey of almost 3,000 children who had blood tests which measured vitamin D levels.
Going by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ cutoff for healthy vitamin D levels, it was found that 64 million children – about 20 percent of kids that age – have blood levels of vitamin D that are too low. The most compelling evidence about the effects of low levels of vitamin D, taken from a Pediatrics editorial, reveals that rickets can occur. This is a bone disease that was common around 100 years ago and sometimes still happens. The good news, according to the editorial, is that rickets can be treated and prevented with 400 units each day of vitamin D.
Children can get 400 units of vitamin D daily by drinking four cups of fortified milk or eating plenty of fish. The problem is that most children don’t do this. Also, the body makes it’s own vitamin D by being outdoors, but we all know that too many children are not spending enough time outdoors. This is one explanation for why low vitamin D levels are found in children living in colder areas and also in children with darker skin, which does not absorb as much sunlight as lighter skin.