ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
A Little Drink May Be Good for Your Bones
Bone Density Predicts Chances of Breast Cancer
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
CANCER
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Smoking Exposure Now Linked to Colon, Breast Cancers
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Health Tip: After Liposuction
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Probiotics Are The Good Guys
Many Kids Don't Need the Vitamins They're Taking
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Common Pesticide Tied to Development Delays in Kids
Global Warming Biggest Health Threat of 21st Century, Experts Say
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Can a Bad Boss Make You Sick?
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Sun, Smoke, Extra Weight Add Years to Skin
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
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6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D

(HealthDay News) -- While the optimal amount of vitamin D is still subject to debate, a new study finds one thing is sure: over 6 million American children are getting too little of this essential nutrient.

"There are a lot of studies demonstrating associations between low levels of vitamin D and a laundry list of poor health outcomes," noted lead researcher Dr. Jonathan Mansbach, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a pediatrician at Children's Hospital Boston.

"Given the preponderance of data and the safety profile of vitamin D, we believe many U.S. children would likely benefit from more vitamin D," he said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children attain blood levels of vitamin D of at least 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L), while for adults, studies have found at least 75 nmol/L and perhaps up to 100 nmol/L could lower the risk of heart disease and specific cancers, researchers say.

For the study, reported in the November issue of Pediatrics, Mansbach and colleagues collected data on about 5,000 children under age 12 who participated in the 2001-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Based on these data, the researchers found that 6.3 million U.S. children -- almost one in 5 -- were at less than the recommended 50 nmol/L level of vitamin D.

Moreover, more than two-thirds of children (24 million) have vitamin levels below 75 nmol/L, including 80 percent of Hispanic children, 92 percent of black children and 59 percent of white children, Mansbach said.

Children taking multivitamins that included vitamin D had higher levels overall, but less than half of all children were taking a multivitamin, the researchers said.

How children should get much-needed vitamin D is also a topic of debate, and the researchers recommend further study in this area.

Sun exposure is best for obtaining vitamin D, because the skin manufactures the nutrient upon exposure to sunlight. However, during the winter, UVB rays in the Northeast are insufficient for vitamin D production, experts say, and sunscreen use in summer can also reduce the skin's ability to produce vitamin D. Only a few foods contain vitamin D naturally, namely fatty fish such as salmon, egg yolks, some cheese and some meats, including liver. Milk and some cereals are fortified with vitamin D.

Mansbach recommends vitamin D supplements, especially for those living in areas where the sun is scarce in the winter. Here again, the authors say more research is needed to determine the appropriate dosage.

"Summer sunlight exposure is the major source of vitamin D for most people," he said. "But [too much] sun exposure can cause sunburns and eventually skin cancer. Until more research is performed, we think the safest bet is to take vitamin D supplements," he said.

Some experts argue that more foods, such as pasta and bread, should be fortified with vitamin D.

"Food fortification would raise the levels of vitamin D for the U.S. population as a whole, but not everyone in the U.S. is vitamin D-deficient," Mansbach said. "Therefore, on a population basis, it's probably easier to have people take vitamin D supplements."

Samantha Heller, a registered dietitian, clinical nutritionist and exercise physiologist in Fairfield, Conn., also agreed that children should take vitamin D supplements. "Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, fractures, muscle strength and falls, and low levels of vitamin D have been associated with several kinds of cancers, and there may be a link with cardiovascular disease," she said.

Adults would benefit from vitamin D supplements too, Heller said. Adults and children need somewhere between 800 and 1,000 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D a day, she said.

Dr. Michael F. Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics and director of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine, said that "we estimate that vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical condition in the world."

"Children should take vitamin D supplements and be less afraid of sensible sun exposure," Holick said.

"At a minimum, from the time a child is born, they should be on 400 IU of vitamin D a day," he said. "After the age of 1, they should be up to 1,000 IU per day, and teenagers should definitely be on 2,000 IU a day."

Holick would prefer to see the safe upper limit of vitamin D raised. "What I would recommend is that in the first year of life, it should be raised to 5,000 IU per day and for children over the age of 1 and all adults, 10,000 IU a day," he said.

SOURCES: Jonathan Mansbach, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston; Samantha Heller, R.D., C.D.N., registered dietitian, clinical nutritionist, exercise physiologist, Fairfield, Conn.; Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics,director, Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, Boston University School of Medicine; November 2009, Pediatrics