August 3, 2009

Vitamin D Headlining Again…Stay Tuned for New Recommendations

Vitamin D deficiency is making headlines again with the recent publication of a study in the journal Pediatrics (online, not yet in print) which analyzed federal data of more than 6,000 children.

A few highlights:

  • About 9 percent of the population, ages 1 through 21, about 7.6 million children, adolescents and young adults, had Vitamin D levels so low they could be considered Vitamin D deficient
  • An additional 61 percent, 50.8 million,had higher Vitamin D levels, but still low enough to be insufficient
  • Low Vitamin D levels were especially common among girls, adolescents and people with darker skin

The researchers note several factors. Children are:

  • spending more time inside (watching TV, at the computer) instead of going outside
  • using sunscreen when they go outdoors rather than being exposed to the sun's rays
  • replacing soft drinks for milk, the best source of Vitamin D due to fortification

An association was seen between low Vitamin D levels and increased risk for those conditions central to the metabolic syndrome: elevated blood pressure and blood glucose. Learn more about the research and relationship between Vitamin D and Diabetes on a previous blog.

Melamed, one of the study’s authors notes in the Washington Post story, "This appears to be another result of our unhealthy lifestyles, including a sedentary society that doesn't go out in the sun much."

Later this week (Aug 4-5) the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine panel looking at the need to revise the 1997 Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium will hold its 2nd meeting. Learn more about this IOM panel: