The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a new report claiming that 25 percent of American children between the ages of 1 and 11 are Vitamin D deficient.
Once thought of as the “sun” vitamin, today’s kids are getting far less Vitamin D from natural sunlight than in the past as concerns about the danger of sun exposure have grown. Most doctors recommend that children spend no longer than 15 minutes in the sun today without some sort of protection. Although these recommendations will hopefully keep our kids safe from the ultra violet rays that cause skin cancer - they are negatively impacting their Vitamin D intake.
In recent years, a slew of studies has shown that Vitamin D is important to our immune system, can help in the prevention of childhood diabetes and cancer and has been linked to preventing stress fractures in adolescents. Even without using the sun as a primary source, Vitamin D is found in a number of foods including fortified milk and cheese products, tuna, salmon, eggs and fortified orange juices and cereals.
According to Andrew Calabria, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, however, certain higher risk children will require additional supplementation. Those at greater risk for Vitamin D Deficiency include dark-skinned children, overweight children, and exclusively breastfed infants.
Given how easy it is to intake Vitamin D today, it is both alarming and unnecessary for a full 25% of young American kids to be deficient. Hopefully as parents become more aware of the vitamin’s importance and the various options for consuming it, we can keep our kids healthy!