ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
A Winning Strategy to Beat Spring Sporting Injuries
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
CANCER
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Mineral May Reduce High-Risk Bladder Disease
CAREGIVING
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Healthy : You Can Live Longer
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
For Fitness, Cutting Calories May Not Be Enough
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
Heavy Traffic Can Be Heartbreaking
EYE CARE, VISION
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
FITNESS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Swine Flu Fatality Rate a 'Little Bit' Higher Than That of Seasonal Flu
Have Fun But Put Play It Safe on the 4th
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Irregular Heartbeat Tied to Alzheimer's Disease
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Meditation May Boost College Students' Learning
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
SENIORS
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Add your Article

Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D

MONDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Over the course of two decades, vitamin D levels have dramatically decreased among Americans, a new study finds.

Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with rickets in children and lower bone mineral density in adults. Recent research has also linked insufficient vitamin D to cancer, heart disease, infection and poorer health overall. Optimal levels range from 30 nanograms per milliliter to 40 nanograms per milliliter, the researchers said.

"We found a marked increase in vitamin D deficiency over the past two decades," said lead researcher Dr. Adit Ginde, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. "Over three out of every four Americans now have vitamin D levels below what we believe is necessary for optimal health. African-Americans and Hispanics are at particularly high risk -- nearly all have suboptimal levels."

The report was published in the March 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

For the study, Ginde's group collected data on vitamin D levels in 18,883 people collected between 1988 and 1994, and 13,369 people collected between 2001 and 2004. All the data came from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers found that average vitamin D levels were 30 nanograms per milliliter from 1988 to 1994, but decreased to 24 nanograms per milliliter between 2001 and 2004. Moreover, vitamin D levels of less than 10 nanograms per milliliter increased from 2 percent to 6 percent over the study period. There were also fewer people with vitamin D levels of 30 nanograms per milliliter or higher (45 percent vs. 23 percent).

The greatest drops in vitamin D levels were seen among blacks, where levels of vitamin D of less than 10 nanograms per milliliter rose from 9 percent to 29 percent, and levels of more than 30 nanograms per milliliter or higher dropped from 12 percent to 3 percent, the researchers found.

"Increases in vitamin D deficiency in the population may have reduced the overall health of the population," Ginde said. "Since sunlight is the body's major source of vitamin D, increases in sunscreen, sun avoidance, and overall decreased outdoor activity, while successful in reducing skin cancers, has probably reduced vitamin D levels in the population."

Ten minutes of sunlight on exposed arms and legs two to three times per week would significantly improve vitamin D production, but must be weighed against the risk for skin cancer, Ginde noted. Vitamin D supplementation is another way to increase levels. However, current recommended doses of vitamin D supplements are outdated and inadequate, he added.

Right now, recommended levels of vitamin D supplements are 200 international units per day from birth to age 50, 400 international units (IU) per day from age 51 to 70, and 600 international units per day for adults aged 71 and older. These recommendations are primarily for improving bone health.

"Vitamin D is an important and underappreciated public health issue and may be responsible for some racial differences in health outcomes," Ginde said. "Most Americans could use more vitamin D. Higher doses of vitamin D supplementation than currently recommended, at least 1,000 to 2,000 IU daily, are likely needed to raise vitamin D levels for many people."

Another report in the same journal highlights the importance of vitamin D for bone health. In the study, Swiss researchers conclude that 400 IU of vitamin D supplements per day are associated with a reduced risk of fractures in older adults.

"Given the frequency, severity and cost of non-vertebral fractures, everyone age 65 and older should take vitamin D in a dose close to 800 IU per day," said lead researcher Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, an assistant professor at the University of Zurich.

To reach their conclusion, Bischoff-Ferrari and colleagues reviewed the findings of 12 clinical trials of looking at the benefits of vitamin D supplements in reducing fractures in adults aged 65 and older. In all, the trials involved 42,279 participants.

The researchers found that vitamin D supplements decreased the risk of non-vertebral fractures by 14 percent and of hip fractures by 9 percent. In trials where people were given doses of more than 400 IUs a day, fractures were reduced by 20 percent and hip fractures by 18 percent.

In addition, for people taking high doses of vitamin D, calcium supplements did not appear to have any additional protective effect against fractures, the researchers reported.

"At the higher dose, this benefit is not restricted to frail older individuals, but is also present in community-dwelling older individuals," Bischoff-Ferrari said. "In the subgroup of community-dwelling older individuals, vitamin D at the higher dose reduced non-vertebral fractures by 33 percent."

Dr. Michael F. Holick, director of the Vitamin D Laboratory at Boston University, noted that the recommended levels of vitamin D are under review and likely to be increased.

"An Institute of Medicine panel is planning to have new recommendations out by mid-2010," Holick said. "It's pretty clear that you need a minimum of 1,400 and up to 2,000 IU a day, and if you are obese, you probably need at least one and a half to two times as much, because the fat sequesters the vitamin D," he said.

Holick said people are drinking less milk and staying out of the sun, which are the main reasons for the decreasing vitamin D levels in the population.

One way to combat the problem is to increase vitamin D supplementation in foods, Holick said. New recommendations that increase vitamin D levels will let the food industry increase vitamin D levels in foods and add vitamin D to more foods, he said.

"We are in desperate need to have a marked increase in the adequate intake recommendation, and hopefully, that will be 1,000 to 2,000 IUs per day and raise the safe upper limit to at least 10,000 IUs a day," Holick said. "The plan would be to increase the amount per serving and increase the number of foods fortified with vitamin D."

More information

For more on vitamin D, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: Adit Ginde, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor, surgery, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine; Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, Dr.P.H., assistant professor, University of Zurich, University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland; Michael F. Holick, M.D., Ph.D., director, Vitamin D Laboratory, Boston University; March 23, 2009, Archives of Internal Medicine

Last Updated: March 23, 2009

Copyright 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

More articles at www.eholistic.com