Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kids in “Sunny” countries at risk of vitamin D deficiency

In typically sunny regions - Australia, Israel, India, Florida - parents have long thought that they and their children were getting enough Vitamin D by virtue of having easy access to the sun. Recent research, however, indicates that modern lifestyles combined with increasing awareness to the danger of sun exposure mean that children living in these countries are increasingly at risk of having vitamin D deficiency.

As Anlit’s Vitamin D researcher and scientific director of Ma’abarot Health Division, Mrs. Sigal Tepper, described in an article (pg. 38) of Nutraceutical Magazine (NBT), that childhood vitamin D deficiency is on the verge of becoming a global pandemic.

Tepper is sounding the alarm for a good reason. The effects of not getting enough Vitamin D put children at risk of rickets (a severe disorder which softens bones), hypertension, depression, obesity and asthma!

According to Tepper, the biggest group at risk is white, breastfed obese children who are protected from the sun through clothing and sunscreen. She cites a study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine which reported that “low vitamin D levels were found to be especially common among children who drank milk less than once a week, or spent more than 4 hours a day watching TV, playing video games or using computers.”

It’s not hard for modern parents to find themselves with children matching these descriptions. Although protecting children from the sun and breastfeeding babies yield many other health benefits, parents must find ways to compensate for the resulting vitamin D shortages.

Sigal recommends three solutions including controlled sun exposure, turning to relevant food sources, and vitamin D supplements. Although all three solutions can improve the situation, only supplements provide the most precise control over the levels of Vitamin D with the least amount of risk.

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