Most children lacking in vitamin D

August 5, 2009

There's a vitamin D deficiency in a shocking seven out of 10 US children, according to research in Pediatrics.

There's a vitamin D deficiency in a shocking seven out of 10 US children, which raises their risk of hypertension, bone disease and other risk factors for heart conditions, according to research in Pediatrics (Aug. 3).

In the study, co-led by Michal L. Melamed, MD, of Yeshiva University, Bronx, N.Y., researchers evaluated data on 6,000-plus children (ages 1 to 21) from the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Results showed 9% had deficient levels of vitamin D; 61% were insufficient. The study team defined deficiency as less that 15 ng of vitamin D per mL of blood; insufficient meant levels between 15 and 28 ng/mL.

Contributing factors to low vitamin D levels were being older, female, African American, Mexican American, obese, drinking milk less than once a week, watching TV, four hours or more of video game exposure, and computer use.

Study authors call for routine screens of children who are at greater risk of deficient levels of vitamin D. They recommend diet modifications, supplements and more sunlight.

In short, Dr. Melamed says to "turn off the TV" and send kids outside.