That level compared with 14 percent of children who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, a population-based study that assessed the nutrition and health status of both children and adults in the U.S.
"That is 50 percent more than children in a normal population, so based on our findings this means that 1 out of 5 kids with severe mental illness has low vitamin D levels," lead investigator Keith Cheng, M.D., told Medscape Medical News.
Added first study author Mini Zhang, M.A., "The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (43 percent) was most common in children with psychotic disorders compared to other mental health disorders."
Some researchers have also said that low vitamin D levels can lead to autism in children, the report said.
The results of another recent study, this one published in the March 2010 issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that 59 percent of the world's population lacks clinically appropriate amounts of vitamin D in their bodies. Twenty-five percent of those were found to have seriously low levels.
The data also show that low levels of vitamin D can lead to immune system deficiencies as well. According to researchers at the University of Copenhagen, the immune system's T cells tend to remain dormant, meaning there is little or no protection against invading microorganisms.
Dr. Soram Khalsa, writing in The Huffington Post, said during his three decades of practicing medicine, he has noticed that boosting vitamin D levels in his patients has done what many prescription drugs were unable to do:
"I have worked with literally hundreds of herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements, to help my patients, often when drugs did not work. In all this time, I have not seen one nutritional supplement that has the power to affect human health as much as vitamin D. This is because Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin - it is a hormone that has the ability to interact and affect more than 2,000 genes in the body. It is for this reason that vitamin D deficiency has been linked with many of the diseases of modern society. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with 17 types of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disease, chronic pain, osteoporosis, asthma, and most recently with autism."
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