Our Kids Need More Vitamin D…and How to Get It To Them

A recent report in Pediatrics showed that US kids have a raised risk of weak bones and possibly heart disease from deficient vitamin D levels. Far from parental “mega-dosing”, most children could see increased levels from just getting a little more sunshine. Dr. Michal L. Melamed of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx reported that most children could simply just benefit from getting outside and feeling some sunshine on their faces.

Due to the popularity of video and computer games, television watching and the like, modern kids simply do not get out as much as kids used to. This factor more than most contributes to the low level of vitamin D in today’s children. Melamed and her team looked at data on 6,275 children and young adults, aged 1 to 21 from the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey. What they found were 9% of those surveyed were classified “deficient” in vitamin D, while 61% were vitamin D “insufficient”. In older children, girls, obese individuals, those who drank milk less than once a week and those who spent more than four hours a day in front of a TV, computer or video screen, deficiency was more common. Non-Hispanic black kids and Mexican-Americans also were more likely than whites to be deficient.

Kids with a vitamin D deficiency are more likely to have high blood pressure, low calcium levels (that very important factor for healthy bone growth), and low levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol than children with adequate amounts of vitamin D.

While getting out into the sunshine is a great way to get vitamin D (at least 15 to 20 minutes without sunscreen) the ability of the skin to produce vitamin D from sun-as well as the risk of skin cancer–varies depending on a child’s skin color. As Dr. Melamed stated, she wasn’t advocating “sunbathing”!

She does though advocate supplements, but cautions they must be used with care. Taking too much vitamin D can lead to kidney stones and other kidney problems. It is always best to consult a health practitioner or certified nutritionist to prescribe the correct doses for you and your children. And with the winter months fast approaching, people simply getting less sunshine than they should. The time might be right to seek the advice of a Naturopathic Doctor or Nutritionist to recommend a good safe Vitamin D supplement.

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