October 26, 2009

American Children Lack Vitamin D

Millions of US children aren't getting proper amounts of vitamin D, according to a new study.

Dr Jonathan Mansbach, from Children's Hospital Boston, led the large nationally representative study to provide an updated look at vitamin D levels in US children.

The study is published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The new findings confirm the assumption that vitamin D levels in children have dropped below what's considered healthy.

Additionally, the study found that black and Hispanic children are at an increased risk.

The study found that nearly 90 percent of black children between the ages of 1 and 11-years-old, and almost 80 percent of Hispanic children could have deficient levels of vitamin D, which can lead to significant health risks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children should have vitamin D levels of at least 50 nmol/L (20 ng/ml).

But Mansbach noted that other studies have shown that vitamin D levels should be at least 75 nmol/L (30 ng/ml), and possibly 100 nmol/L (40 ng/ml), to lower the risk of heart disease and specific cancers.

Mansbach worked alongside researchers at the University of Colorado and Massachusetts General Hospital to study data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

They studied levels of vitamin D in a nationally representative sample of 5,000 children during 2001-2006.

They found that about 20 percent of US children has vitamin D levels of less than the recommended 50 nmol/L, while more than two-thirds of all children has levels below 75 nmol/L.

"If 75 nmol/L or higher is eventually demonstrated to be the healthy normal level of vitamin D, then there is much more vitamin D deficiency in the US than people realize," said Mansbach.

"We need to perform randomized controlled trials to understand if vitamin D actually improves these wide-ranging health outcomes," he added.

"At present, however, there are a lot of studies demonstrating associations between low levels of vitamin D and poor health. Therefore, we believe many US children would likely benefit from more vitamin D."


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