Many Children Have Low Levels Of Vitamin D

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Of children living in the Northeast U.S., 55% had low levels of vitaminD and more than 90% of black children had low levels, according to astudy in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Bloomberg reports. For the study, Babette Zemel, director of the Nutrition and Growth Laboratory at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia,and colleagues measured a biomarker for vitamin D in the blood of 382children ages six to 21 who live in the Northeast. They also examinedchildren's consumption of vitamin D from food and supplements.

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VitaminD deficiency can lead to poor absorption of bone minerals and cancontribute to cancer, multiple sclerosis, hypertension and diabetes,researchers said. Diets low in vitamin D have been associated withallergies to dairy, lactose intolerance and strict vegetarian diets.More than 80% of blacks, American Indians and Asian-Americans arelactose intolerant. Fortified milk is the primary source of vitamin Din diets, while sun exposure is considered the best way to increaselevels of the vitamin. The study did not look at vitamin D levelsrelated to sunlight exposure.

Sixty-eight percent of childrenhad low vitamin D levels during the winter months, when they receivedless sun exposure, the study found. Children older than age nine, thosewho did not consume enough vitamin D in their diets and blacks weremore at risk of low vitamin D levels. Researchers also found thatchildren with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to be fromlow-income households, have undereducated caregivers and be overweight.

Zemel said, "Vitamin D deficiency remains an under-recognizedproblem overall, and is not well studied in children." Researchers saidthat further research should examine the effect of sun exposure onvitamin D levels and should look at children in multiple test sites (Bloomberg, 7/9).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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