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01/04/2009

Vitamin D deficiency causing health problems in teens

(NaturalNews) Vitamin D levels in the general population are falling, caused in large part by sedentary lifestyles and the often overstated skin cancer scare, and our young ones are not spared from this trend, either. And this is negatively affecting their health, as revealed in a study presented at the American Heart Association's 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, which linked low vitamin D levels with several health conditions in teenagers.

Details of Study

The study team had looked at data of 3,577 adolescents aged 12 to 19 who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) carried out from 2001 to 2004. There was an almost even gender split among the subjects. Ethnicity-wise, the profile of the study group was similar to the general American population. A biomarker of vitamin D was used to measure blood levels of the compound, and it included measures of vitamin D intake from dietary and supplementary sources as well as vitamin D production from sunlight exposure.

Findings of Study

Having accounted for factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, levels of physical activity and body mass index, the team found that teens who had the lowest levels of vitamin D had a much higher risk of having certain health conditions. These adolescents had 2.36 times the likelihood of having high blood pressure, 2.54 times the likelihood of high blood sugar, and a staggering 3.99 times the likelihood of having metabolic syndrome, which is a group of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes; these include high blood pressure, heightened levels of triglycerides, decreased levels of "good" cholesterol, elevated levels of fasting blood glucose, as well as wider waists.

Not surprisingly, due to the fact that dark-skinned persons require more sunlight to synthesize the same amount of vitamin D as fair-skinned persons, non-Hispanic black Americans were found to have the lowest levels of vitamin D, while white Americans had the highest - almost twice that of black Americans.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Insufficiency in the Young

Vitamin D deficiency is becoming an epidemic both in the general population as well as the younger populace. According to a 2007 article written by Michael Holick, the author of The UV Advantage, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 52% of Hispanic as well as black adolescents were found in a Boston study to have less than 20 nanograms per milliliter of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, a level which would class them as being vitamin D deficient. Similarly, a Maine study found that 48% of white pre-adolescent girls were below that level.

Also in 2007, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed blood vitamin D levels in 382 healthy children and teenagers in the northeast of the US. It found that about 55% of the young ones, aged 6 to 21, had inadequate blood vitamin D levels. In winter, the situation worsened, with 68% having low blood vitamin D levels. With vitamin D deficiency being linked to a whole host of serious diseases, this indicates a ticking time bomb in a substantial portion of the young population.

If you have not already done so, it is time to take vitamin D very seriously, both for yourself and your children.

References

Low Vitamin D Levels Associated With Several Risk Factors In Teenagers (http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...)

MF Holick. Vitamin D Deficiency. New England Journal of Medicine 2007;357:266-81.

Low Vitamin D Levels May Be Common In Otherwise Healthy Children (http://www.sciencedaily.com/release...)

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