Minority children are hit hardest, nationwide study finds
MONDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- While the optimal amount of vitamin D is still subject to debate, a new study finds one thing is sure: over 6 million American children are getting too little of this essential nutrient.
"There are a lot of studies demonstrating associations between low levels of vitamin D and a laundry list of poor health outcomes," noted lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Mansbach, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a pediatrician at Children's Hospital Boston.
"Given the preponderance of data and the safety profile of vitamin D, we believe many U.S. children would likely benefit from more vitamin D," he said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children attain blood levels of vitamin D of at least 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L), while for adults, studies have found at least 75 nmol/L and perhaps up to 100 nmol/L could lower the risk of heart disease and specific cancers, researchers say.
For the study, reported in the November issue of Pediatrics, Mansbach and colleagues collected data on about 5,000 children under age 12 who participated in the 2001-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Based on these data, the researchers found that 6.3 million U.S. children -- almost one in 5 -- were at less than the recommended 50 nmol/L level of vitamin D.
Moreover, more than two-thirds of children (24 million) have vitamin levels below 75 nmol/L, including 80 percent of Hispanic children, 92 percent of black children and 59 percent of white children, Mansbach said.
Children taking multivitamins that included vitamin D had higher levels overall, but less than half of all children were taking a multivitamin, the researchers said.
How children should get much-needed vitamin D is also a topic of debate, and the researchers recomme
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