Boston, Mass. -- Millions of children in the United States between the ages of 1 and 11 may suffer from suboptimal levels of vitamin D, according to a large nationally representative study published in the November issue of Pediatrics, accompanied by an editorial.
The study, led by Jonathan Mansbach, MD, at Children's Hospital Boston, is the most up-to-date analysis of vitamin D levels in U.S. children. It builds on the growing evidence that levels have fallen below what's considered healthy, and that black and Hispanic children are at particularly high risk.
Both the optimal amount of vitamin D supplementation and the healthy blood level of vitamin D are under heated debate in the medical community. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children should have vitamin D levels of at least 50 nmol/L (20 ng/ml). However, other studies in adults suggest that vitamin D levels should be at least 75 nmol/L (30 ng/ml), and possibly 100 nmol/L (40 ng/ml), to lower the risk of heart disease and specific cancers.
Mansbach and collaborators from the University of Colorado Denver and Massachusetts General Hospital used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to look at vitamin D levels in a nationally representative sample of roughly 5,000 children from 2001-2006. Extrapolating to the entire U.S. population, their analysis suggests that roughly 20 percent of all children fell below the recommended 50 nmol/L. Moreover, more than two-thirds of all children had levels below 75 nmol/L, including 80 percent of Hispanic children and 92 percent of non-Hispanic black children.
"If 75 nmol/L or higher is eventually demonstrated to be the healthy normal level of vitamin D, then there is much more vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. than people realize," Mansbach says.
Mansbach and his co-authors suggest that all children take vitamin D supplements, because of the generally low level
|Contact: James Newton|
Children's Hospital Boston