Majority of American children have insufficient vitamin D levels

Reprinted with Permission of Life Extension

The results of a study conducted by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, published online on August 1, 2009 in the journal Pediatrics, reveal a disturbing presence of low levels of vitamin D among children in the U.S. “We expected the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency would be high, but the magnitude of the problem nationwide was shocking,” stated lead author Juhi Kumar, MD, MPH, who is a fellow in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and Academic Medical Center for Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

grumpy baby

The researchers, led by Einstein assistant professor medicine Michal L. Melamed, MD, evaluated data from over 6,000 children aged 1 to 21 who participated in the National Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2004. “Several small studies had found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in specific populations of children, but no one had examined this issue nationwide,” Dr Melamed observed.

Insufficient levels of vitamin D were defined as 15 to 29 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), and deficient levels as less than 15 ng/mL.Vitamin D insufficiency was revealed in 61 percent of the participants, a percentage which, if applied to the U.S. population, is equivalent to 50.8 million children. Deficiency was found in 9 percent of the subjects, equal to 7.6 million children. Although participants who consumed 400 international units of vitamin D per day were less likely to experience a deficiency, just 4 percent of the children used vitamin D supplements.

“The message for pediatricians is that vitamin D deficiency is a real problem with consequences not only for bone health but also potentially for long-term cardiovascular health.” Dr Kumar concluded. “Pediatricians should be screening children for vitamin D levels, especially in the high-risk populations.”

—D Dye

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