U.S. Kids May Need More Vitamin D
Researchers Say Millions of Children May Get Too Little Vitamin D
Oct. 26, 2009 -- Millions of children in the U.S. may not get enough vitamin
D, and African-American and Hispanic kids are especially at risk, a new study
Researchers concluded that more than 6 million U.S. children have lower
vitamin D levels than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. And more
than two out of three children, or 24 million, have lower levels than may be
optimal for good health, the researchers reported this week in
"We think kids would probably benefit from getting more vitamin D than most
are getting right now," study researcher Jonathan M. Mansbach, MD, of
Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, tells WebMD.
The problem is no one is sure how much vitamin D children and adults need
and what the optimal blood levels of the vitamin should be.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children get at least 400
international units (IU) of vitamin D a day, and that blood levels not fall
below 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).
But studies in adults suggest that blood levels of 75 nmol/L or even higher
may be linked to a reduced risk for heart disease, certain cancers, and other
In the newly published study, researchers analyzed recent data from a
nationally representative sample of 5,000 children between the ages of 1 and 11
to estimate vitamin D levels for the nation's children as a whole.
Based on this analysis, they concluded that:
- 6.3 million kids, or nearly 20% of all children ages 1-11 in the
U.S., fall below the recommended 50 nmol/L blood levels.
- Slightly more than two out of three had levels below 75 nmol/L, including
four out of five Hispanic children and more than nine out of 10 non-Hispanic,
- About 1% of children were clearly deficient in vitamin D (below 25 nmol/L)
and at risk for the bone-softening disease rickets.
"If 75 nmol/L really is a more appropriate lowest level of acceptable, there
is a lot more vitamin D deficiency in U.S. children that most people realize,"
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin
Mansbach says studies are needed to determine optimal blood levels of
vitamin D in children and how much vitamin D they should be taking to get to
Most children's multivitamins contain 400 IU of vitamin D, the minimum daily
amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
But Mansbach says most children probably need more than this, especially
darker-skinned children and those who live in colder climates with limited
exposure to the sun.
The body converts UV rays from the sun into vitamin D, and all agree that
sun exposure is the most efficient way to increase blood levels of the