ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
'Snowbirds' Beware the Climate Changes
Gene Plays Key Role in Clubfoot
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Get to Know the Pap Test
CAREGIVING
Organ Donation Policies Vary Among Children's Hospitals
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
Fish Twice a Week Cuts Diabetics' Kidney Risks
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
DIET, NUTRITION
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Eat Up, But Eat Healthy This Holiday Season
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
EYE CARE, VISION
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
Maximize Your Run
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
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