Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Low Levels of Vitamin D Are Common Among Healthy Children

According to a new study, many kids and adolescents who are otherwise healthy may have inadequate blood levels of vitamin D, a nutrient essential for normal growth and development. A vitamin D deficiency in childhood may lead to muscle weakness, defective bone mineralization and rickets.

A new study published in the July 2007 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that many children may be at risk for a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is essential for normal growth and development and is important for immune function. The researchers from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia assessed dietary and supplemental vitamin D intake, body mass, and measured blood levels of vitamin D in 382 healthy children between six years and 21 years of age living in the northeastern U.S. and found that more than half of the children had low blood levels of vitamin D. Of the subjects, 55 percent of the children had inadequate vitamin D blood levels and 68 percent overall had low blood levels of the vitamin in the wintertime.

African Americans, children aged 9 and older, and those whose vitamin D intake was low were likeliest to have reduced serum vitamin D levels. "The best indicator of a person's vitamin D status is the blood level of a vitamin D compound called 25-hydroxyvitamin D," Dr. Zemel, the lead investigator noted. "Vitamin D deficiency remains an under-recognized problem overall, and is not well studied in children." The researchers added that further study is needed to determine the appropriate blood levels of vitamin D in children, as well as a review of the current recommendations for vitamin D intake.

Source: Risk factors for low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in otherwise healthy children and adolescents, Francis L Weng, Justine Shults, Mary B Leonard, Virginia A Stallings, and Babette S Zemel, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 July; 86(1):150- 8.