Kids Fall Short on Vitamin D

The shocking results of a recent study conducted across the U.S. revealed 7 out of 10 children have dangerously low levels of vitamin D leaving them at risk of heart disease, rickets, and weak bones.

The study analyzed data gathered in the 2001 to 2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of a nationally representative sample of 6,275 children aged 1 to 21.

Kids who have low vitamin D levels are at serious risk of heart disease in adulthood, find Johns Hopkins researcher Jared P. Reis, PhD, and colleagues. Reis' team analyzed data from 3,577 12- to 19-year-olds in the NHANES database.

They found that even after controlling for all kinds of factors that affect heart disease risk — obesity, exercise levels, race/ethnicity, age, gender, and socioeconomic status — low vitamin D put kids at risk of heart disease as adults.

A sufficient amount of vitamin D is difficult to obtain from dietary sources. It is possible to obtain vitamin D from direct sun exposure - without sunscreen (sunscreens block UV-B rays they in turn prevent the body from converting vitamin D). However, since the generous amount of sunshine necessary to assure sufficient vitamin D exposure is potentially harmful and because children often spend too much time indoors watching television, playing video games, or on the computer, it is advisable for all children to assure vitamin D levels with supplements, not sunshine. Take a sensible approach when it come to sun exposure, read Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times Newsletter, May 2007 issue, "The Sun: Friend or Foe?".

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their guidelines in 2008 for vitamin D intake in infants, children, and teens to prevent rickets and vitamin D deficiency. Their latest guidelines increased the recommended minimum daily intake from 200 IUs to 400 IUs per day of vitamin D for all infants, children, and adolescents beginning in the first few days of life.

Dr. Fuhrman suggests children require even more vitamin D then what is available through breast milk, formula and most multivitamins. His Osteo-Sun capsules are a great source of vitamin D and can easily be twisted opened and the tasteless powder mixed into children's food or drink. Each capsule provides 300 IUs of D3.

In addition, Dr. Fuhrman also recommends children 1 year and up supplement with his multivitamin, Pixie-Vites, and DHA Purity. See Dr. Fuhrman's Vitamin Advisor for details. Learn more about the health risks associated with vitamin D deficiencies in Dr. Fuhrman's Healthy Times Newsletter, Winter 2009 issue, "Deadly Vitamin D Levels".

SOURCES: Kumar, J. Pediatrics, September 2009; vol 124, published online ahead of print. Reis, J.P. Pediatrics, September 2009; vol 124, published online ahead of print. News release, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.