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Latest analysis confirms suboptimal vitamin D levels in millions of US children
Date:10/25/2009

s that they found and the potential health benefits of boosting vitamin D to normal levels. Vitamin D improves bone health and prevents rickets in children, and recent studies suggest that it also may prevent a host of common childhood illnesses, including respiratory infections, childhood wheezing, and winter-related eczema.

Although sun exposure generates healthy doses of vitamin D, it can also cause skin cancer. Dermatologists and the AAP recommend wearing sunblock, but this actually blocks our skin's ability to make vitamin D. Furthermore, children with more highly pigmented skin require much more sun exposure than fair-skinned children to obtain healthy levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D can also be obtained from certain foods, like liver and fatty fish, but almost all children in the U.S. don't consume these foods in high enough quantities to match the vitamin D that could be provided by summer sunshine or vitamin D supplements.

In the study, children taking multi-vitamins that included vitamin D had higher levels overall, but this accounted for less than half of all children. Mansbach recommends that all children take vitamin D supplements, especially those living in high latitudes, where the sun is scarce in the wintertime.

"We need to perform randomized controlled trials to understand if vitamin D actually improves these wide-ranging health outcomes," Mansbach says. "At present, however, there are a lot of studies demonstrating associations between low levels of vitamin D and poor health. Therefore, we believe many U.S. children would likely benefit from more vitamin D."


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Contact: James Newton
james.newton@childrens.harvard.edu
617-919-3110
Children's Hospital Boston
Source:Eurekalert

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