Millions of Children Have Low Blood Vitamin D Levels

A recent study of over 6,000 children by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, USA has found that seven in every ten children in the USA have low levels of vitamin D (lower than the acceptable healthy range). This study has suggested that these children may be at high risk for developing high blood pressure, as well as other types of heart disease together with problems with bone health.

The researchers analysed blood levels of vitamin D in over 6,000 children between the ages of 1 and 21 which had been previously collected and documented by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2004. Blood levels of vitamin D are determined to be a deficiency if blood levels are less than 15 ng per mL and are determined to be an insufficiency if blood levels are between 15 to 29 ng per mL.

The researchers discovered that 9 percent of the children had deficient blood levels of vitamin D (approximately 7.6 million children) and that another 61 percent had insufficient blood levels of vitamin D (approximately 50.8 million children). The research also determined that low vitamin D levels were more prevalent in older children, African-American and Mexican-American children, obese children as well as those children who drank milk less than once a week, or who spent more than four hours a day watching television, playing videogames or using the internet.

seven in every ten children in the USA have low levels of vitamin D (lower than the acceptable healthy range)

The researchers recommended that children should eat foods rich in vitamin D, such as full fat milk and cold water, fatty fish, such as salmon, but conceded that this may not be enough to get adequate levels of vitamin D. Some children may need supplementation of vitamin D, especially those who live in the northern parts, which gets little sunshine and darker skinned people, whose melanin may block absorption of the vitamin D from sunshine.

The researchers also found that low levels of vitamin D deficiency were associated with higher parathyroid hormone levels, a marker of bone health, higher systolic blood pressure, and lower serum calcium and HDL (good) cholesterol levels, which are key risk factors for heart disease.

Vitamin D deficiency in children can also cause the bone weakening disease rickets and in adults, causes the bone weakening disease osteomalacia.

The study was published on Monday 3 August 2009 in the online version of Pediatrics.

In addition to this, another recent study has suggested that intake of normal doses (RDI) of vitamin D supplements seems to be associated with decreases in total mortality rates. The relationship between baseline vitamin D status, dose of vitamin D supplements, and total mortality rates remains to be investigated.


  1. Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Einstein News. Millions of U.S. Children Low in Vitamin D
  2. Autier P, Gandini S. Vitamin D Supplementation and Total Mortality: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Arch Int Med, Vol. 167 No. 16, September 10, 2007


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