Subjects: Behavioral health
Fourteen percent of US teens are vitamin D deficient, according to a study by Sandy Saintonge and colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College.
In kids, vitamin D deficiency can cause abnormal bone mineralization and rickets. In adults, it is associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune deficiency, insulin resistance and hypertension.
Estimates for the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the general population have been confounded by faulty measurement systems and a lack of expert consensus regarding optimal vitamin D levels.
In 2007, the 13th Workshop Consensus Group on Vitamin D made another pass at the latter, and ended up bumping the lower level of acceptable vitamin D levels by almost 50%.
That’s what prompted the current study.
The scientists obtained data from 2,955 participants between the ages of 12 and 19 that had been enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Using the old criteria, only 2% of the population would have been classified as Vitamin D deficient.
The write-up is in Pediatrics.
Alarmingly, more than half of African-American teens were found to be deficient in vitamin D. Overweight teens were twice as likely as those in the normal-weight group to be Vitamin D deficient.
Girls were twice as likely to be Vitamin D deficient as boys, a particular concern since the condition may increase maternal and fetal risks should any become pregnant.
“To meet minimum nutritional requirements teens need to consume at least 4 glasses of fortified milk daily or its dietary equivalent. Other foods rich in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, eggs and fortified cereals. A vitamin supplement containing 400 IU of vitamin D is another alternative,” said Saintonge, an assistant professor of pediatrics.