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Lack of vitamin D rampant in infants, teens (Health)

posted by bibleprobe1(R), 06.17.2008

Lack of vitamin D rampant in infants, teens

By Mary Brophy Marcus, USA TODAY

Giving your children all they need to grow big and strong may not be as simple as a gummy vitamin and three square meals. They still may be susceptible to an epidemic that's starting to gain the notice of pediatricians and bone doctors across the country: vitamin D deficiency.
Mike Stone joined a growing legion of children diagnosed with the condition when an X-ray of his 14-year-old bones revealed a skeleton so thin it appeared clear on film.

ON THE WEB: 'Vitamin D for Me' offers educational films, free resources

"My doctor thought the machine was broken and that they should take an X-ray on another one," says Stone, 22, a recent graduate of Tufts University in Boston.

The machine wasn't broken. Stone was seriously vitamin D deficient, and though he had felt a "snap" in his back the impetus for the doctor's visit he had no fractures. But his bones had become perilously thin, 50% less dense than they should have been. His doctor immediately put him on vitamin D supplements to correct the problem, Stone says.

MORE: Lack of vitamin D also endangers adults

For years, doctors have been aware that older people tend to be low in vitamin D and need extra supplements to help keep bones strong, says Lisa Callahan, co-director of the Women's Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Pediatricians had thought the problem had been solved among children with the vitamin D fortification of milk, cereal and other foods. But an ever-lengthening roster of studies is revealing vitamin D deficiency is more common than previously believed in youngsters, including breast-fed babies and teens.

"Vitamin D deficiency is much more of a health problem than anyone realized," says Catherine Gordon, director of the bone health program at Children's Hospital Boston. In the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Gordon and her colleagues found that 40% of infants and toddlers tested below average for vitamin D. In a previous study, Gordon and fellow researchers discovered that 42% of adolescents were vitamin D deficient.

"Vitamin D deficiency was twice as common in teens as we assumed it would be," she says.

A review of vitamin D medical literature published last July in The New England Journal of Medicine by Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University Medical School and director of the Bone Health Care Clinic there, indicated that numerous studies are showing vitamin D does much more than boost bone health in children and adults. In children, it can inhibit future hip fractures, and it may help reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes.

Sunlight, diet particularly oily fish and enriched milk and supplements are good sources of vitamin D, Holick says.

Vitamin D is different from other vitamins because though the body stores it, it needs ultraviolet B rays from the sun to activate it, says James Dowd, professor of medicine at Michigan State University and author of The Vitamin D Cure.

Fifteen minutes a day will do the trick, he says. When vitamin D is dispatched to the liver and kidneys, it is changed into forms that body tissues can use. It helps the body absorb and regulate calcium and promotes mineralization of teeth and bones. Current recommendations by the Institute of Medicine suggest 200 IUs of vitamin D a day for children and 400 IUs for adults, but Callahan, who serves on an institute committee that aims to update those guidelines, says she suggests higher levels to many of her patients, at least 800 to 1,000 IUs a day.

Overdosing on vitamin D is unlikely if you are obtaining it only from diet, Gordon says. But parents should consult their pediatrician before raiding pharmacy shelves for supplements because of different dosages and types. She also says the doctor might want to run a blood test because vitamin D deficiency is hard to detect.

Finish reading this at: USAtoday


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  • Lack of vitamin D rampant in infants, teens - bibleprobe1(R), 06.17.2008
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