American Children are Deficient in Vitamin D

Topping the health news today was another study that found that many Americans are not getting enough Vitamin D.  This is not a new finding.  In fact, I wrote on this very topic two times before (see my posts on “Vitamin D & Bone Health” and “Today Show Talks about Vitamin D“).  The interesting thing about this study is that it was done on children, and it found that 70% of children are not getting enough vitamin D and 10% of children are actually vitamin D deficient. 

Researchers speculate that many children are not getting sufficient vitamin D because they are spending more time in doors.  In fact, children who spend 4 hours or more per day on the computer, watching TV or playing video games had a 60% higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.  This is because sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D. Another reason why children may not be getting as much vitamin D is because they are often drinking sugary beverages instead of milk.  Dairy products (like milk and yogurt) and fatty fish are the primary sources of vitamin D in the diet.

So why is this deficiency a problem?  Insufficient vitamin D can increase the risk of heart disease (even in children), bone loss and deficiencies can even lead to rickets.  In order to meet vitamin D requirements, for most people it just takes 10-15minutes per day in the sun before sunscreen is applied (sunscreen does block the rays that activate the vitamin D in our bodies).  For those with darker skin, it may take a little more than 15 minutes per day.  Including 2-3 servings of dairy products a day will also help to meet vitamin D needs.

For the full story, take a look at the following clip from NBC.