'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
Reduce Suffering, Urge Heart Failure Patients and Caregivers
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Rainy Areas in U.S. Show Higher Autism Rates
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Be Healthy, Spend Less
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
New Methods Could Speed Production of Flu Vaccines
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Dangerous Toys Still on Store Shelves, Report Finds
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Supportive Weigh-In Program Keeps Pounds Off
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
Add your Article

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