Here's a story on vitamin D deficiency that ran on Good Morning America:(There's a little part in the middle that really irks me, but I think the story is interesting in general.)
It may not be enough to make your kids eat their veggies every night. According to an alarming new study out this month, more than 40 percent of children from infants to teens are vitamin D deficient. You're about to meet one young man who found out the hard way.
Mike Stone and his brother Doug have always been healthy active boys. Their mom, Marla, made sure they ate right, drank their milk and regularly saw their pediatrician. Then, at age 14, after Mike complained of back pain, X-rays revealed a shocking discovery. Mike said, "He put it up to the light and you could essentially see right through the bones."
Doctors told him that he was seriously Vitamin D deficient. His bones were only 50% the density of a normal child his age and in risk of a fracture at any moment.His younger brother Doug who was just 7 at the time was also diagnosed as having vitamin D deficiency but to a lesser degree.
Dr. Michael Holick from Boston University Medical Center said,"It's been estimated now that maybe 50% of children in us are at risk of vitamin D deficiency." Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin," and is produced by your skin in sunlight. It controls the amount of calcium absorbed from your diet and promotes mineralization of teeth and bones.
Dr. Hollick said, "Vitamin D deficiency may increase risk for diabetes, arthritis, maybe cancers. Experts say the low levels of vitamin D in teens may be attributed to their lifestyle-- more time spent on the computer than outside in the sunlight, plus an increase use of sunblock. But according to a new study the problem may begin even earlier.
Researchers at the Children's Hospital in Boston, found 12 percent of infants and toddlers were deficient in vitamin D, and 40 percent had below-optimal levels. Dr. Hollick said, "Pediatricians believe human breast milk provides all nutrients infant requires. But it doesn't. They need vitamin D supplementation."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants and children receive a minimum of 200 international units of vitamin D daily, starting during the first two months of life and continuing through childhood and adolescence. Most formulas provide the daily recommended value, but breast milk does not. To compensate, breast-fed infants can be given a liquid multivitamin drop that contains vitamin D. ((I know I am a reporter and am not supposed to question the experts, but I would need a lot more evidence before I would start giving a breastfed baby vitamin D liquid drops!))
The good news is the problem can easily be reversed through supplements and treatment. Mike and his brother Doug now take supplements, eat more dairy products, and drink juice fortified with vitamin D and their bone density has reached a normal level.
I have no idea about my bone density or that of my kids. They do spend a lot of time in the sun, but I try to keep sunscreen on them. I guess I would prefer vitamin deficiency to cancer if I have to make that choice. Maybe I would do supplementation for older kids if they really need it.
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