The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia released information July 9, 2007 from a study they have been conducting about vitamin D blood levels in healthy children. The study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the findings were disturbing.
Researchers measured the blood levels of vitamin D in 382 healthy children between six and 21 years of age living in the northeastern United States. After noting the children’s vitamin D intake via diet and supplements and body mass, it was found that over half of the children had low levels of vitamin D. The study showed that a hefty 55% of the children had inadequate vitamin D levels and 68% total had low levels during the winter months.
“The best indicator of a person’s vitamin D status is the blood level of a vitamin D compound called 25-hydroxyvitamin D,” said Babette Zemel, Ph.D., a nutritional anthropologist at Children’s Hospital and primary investigator of this study. “Vitamin D deficiency remains an under-recognized problem overall, and is not well studied in children.”
Vitamin D is extremely important for the development and maintenance of healthy bones and muscles. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in some foods and is synthesized in the skin after it is exposed to sunshine. It helps maintain appropriate blood levels of calcium and phosphorous.
Some foods that vitamin D are found in would be: fortified milk, cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines, margarine, eggs, and fortified cereals. However, the most effective way to get vitamin D is through small exposures to sunlight. Deficits of vitamin D can lead to rickets, defective bone mineralization, and muscle weakness. Vitamin D has also been found to be very important to the immune system and may prevent such disorders as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, obesity, cancer, and hypertension.
This study by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and several private sources. Dr. Zemel indicated that there would need to be further study on what are the appropriate blood levels in children, as well as a review on the current recommendations for vitamin D intake.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 and was the nation’s first pediatric hospital. Its pediatric research program is the third largest in the country according the National Institutes of Health funding.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Press Release. URL: (http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/micro_stories.pl?ACCT=159681&TICK=CHOP&STORY=/www/story/07-09-2007/0004621829&EDATE=Jul+9,+2007)
Dietary Government Fact Sheet For Vitamin D. URL: (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp)