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A No Brainer: Teens Deficient In Vitamin D

As reported in ScienceDaily (One In Seven U.S. Teens Is Vitamin D Deficient 3/09), A new study by researchers in the Department of Public Health at Weill Cornell Medical College, found one in seven American adolescentst o be vitamin D deficient, . The findings were published in the March (2009) issue of the journal Pediatrics and were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies' Annual Meeting in May 2008.

The study employs a new definition of vitamin D deficiency recommended by a group of scientists attending the 13th Workshop Consensus for Vitamin D Nutritional Guidelines in 2007. These experts collectively proposed that the minimum acceptable serum vitamin D level be raised from 11 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) to at least 20 ng/mL.

Using the newer criteria, the study finds more than half of African-American teens are vitamin D deficient. Girls had more than twice the risk of deficiency compared with boys. And overweight teens had nearly double the risk of their normal-weight counterparts.

In children, vitamin D deficiency can interfere with bone mineralization, leading to rickets. In adults, it is linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, immune dysfunction and hypertension.

"These are alarming findings. We need to do a better job of educating the public on the importance of vitamin D, and the best ways to get it. To meet minimum nutritional requirements teens would need to consume at least four glasses of fortified milk daily or its dietary equivalent. Other foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, eggs and fortified cereals. A vitamin supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D is another alternative," says Dr. Sandy Saintonge, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and assistant professor of clinical public health at Weill Cornell Medical College, and a pediatric emergency physician at New York Hospital Queens, a member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Healthcare System. "We should also consider a national fortification strategy, perhaps including routine supplementation and monitoring of serum levels, but more research is needed to determine optimal vitamin D levels."

Teens in Danger from Epidemic of Low Vitamin D

As reported in Natural News (3/09 by Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor), America's teens too often are inside glued to their computers and video games instead of playing and even working outdoors like previous generations did. What's more, too many youngsters eat junk food instead of healthy whole foods. So there's plenty of reason to be concerned about a deficiency of vitamin D, also known as the "sunshine vitamin", in this segment of the population. And, in fact, two just released studies show American youth are facing potentially severe health consequences from a lack of this important vitamin.

Getting enough sunshine is also a healthy way to boost levels of the vitamin. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) web site, approximately 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually leads to sufficient vitamin D synthesis.

The American Heart Association's 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, Jared P. Reis, Ph.D., and his team of researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore announced their findings of a study of 3,577 adolescents, 12 to 19 years old (51 percent boys), who participated in the nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted from 2001. The scientists used a biomarker in the research subjects' blood to measure vitamin D obtained from food, vitamin supplements and exposure to sunlight.

"We showed strong associations between low levels of vitamin D and higher risk of high blood pressure, hyperglycemia and metabolic syndrome among adolescents, confirming the results of studies among adults," Dr. Reis said in a statement to the media. Low levels of vitamin D could also help explain why American teens are becoming fatter. A lack of the vitamin is strongly associated with being overweight and obesity centered around the abdomen, Reis noted.

Specifically, the youngsters with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 2.36 times more likely to have hypertension, 2.54 times more likely to have high blood sugar and about 4 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome -- a group of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors that includes an increased waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol and high fasting glucose levels.

Of the specific findings, the authors were particularly concerned about the role of weight in deficiency. "Because vitamin D is stored in body fat, simply increasing the dosage of vitamin D may not be effective in overweight adolescents," notes senior author Dr. Linda M. Gerber, professor of public health in the Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and professor of epidemiology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. "As the prevalence of childhood obesity increases, vitamin D deficiency may increase as well. In this group, appropriate nutrition could solve both problems."

Another concern is the increased risk of deficiency in girls, some of whom may become pregnant during adolescence. The authors note that a lack of vitamin D may increase maternal risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes and may be associated with reduced bone mineralization in the offspring.

related articles:
Sunlight: True Source Of Vitamin D
Taking Vitamin D Lightly
Does Indoor Tanning Produce Vitamin D?


Disclaimer

Tanning & Natural Health News is a publication of Tan Plus /Essentials Of Life, Barclay Square, 350 Route 108, Somersworth, NH. This publication is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be presented as medical advice. Product statements made have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.


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