(NaturalNews) Extra weight on your child might mean even greater risk for health complications than originally thought. According to a recent study appearing in the journal Pediatrics, it may also mean your child is deficient in one of the most important "vitamins" to overall human health and vital functioning -- vitamin D, a necessary contributor to healthy skeletal development in children, among other things.
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas studied a cross section of African American, Latino and white children, ages six to 18 years old, and divided them, by height and weight measurements, into four separate groups: healthy weight, overweight, obese and severely obese. They found vitamin D deficiency to be "highly prevalent in overweight and obese children." Specifically, deficient levels of vitamin D were found in 21 percent of healthy weight children, 29 percent of overweight children and 34 percent obese children and 49 percent severely obese.
Among the children who were severely obese, African American and Latino children were found to have higher rates of vitamin D deficiency, at 87 percent and 52 percent respectively. By comparison, deficiency levels were much lower in white children, at 27 percent. According to the study's authors, "The particularly high prevalence in severely obese and minority children suggests that targeted screening and treatment guidance is needed."
Results of this study emerge following findings published last year in the journal Pediatrics, which found that 70 percent of all children in the U.S. have low vitamin D levels. At the time, Dr. Juhi Kumar of Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center described these findings as "shocking." And indeed it is, especially remembering that vitamin D deficiency has been linked with seemingly innumerable health complications in adults, including but not limited to heart disease, autoimmune disease, infertility, birth defects, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, insomnia and even several types of cancer.
More on the missing "vitamin" D
Maintaining appropriate levels of vitamin D is critical because it influences nearly 3,000 of the roughly 25,000 genes in the human body. According to Dr. Larry Wilson, healthy vitamin D levels assist the body in a multitude of essential repair and maintenance activities, like balancing the immune system functions, protecting against infections and inflammation and contributing to the production of more than 200 anti-microbial peptides, to name a few.
Though direct exposure to sunshine might be the ideally more natural ways of obtaining the recommended daily vitamin D levels, Dr. Wilson believes people cannot get enough from sunlight alone. And the manufacturers of sun care products aren't doing us any favors, he suggests, when their products block the very light rays that help our bodies to produce vitamin D in the skin.
"Going out into the sun does not seem to matter much, unless perhaps you are outside all day long," Wilson says, and "tanning beds can be used to obtain more vitamin D, but they may not be safe. "
And food, on its own, may not offer enough support either. "Vitamin D is not high enough in cod liver oil, or just in dairy products and pasture-fed meats... If one eats three or four cans of sardines per week, one will not need a vitamin D supplement in most cases." He does not recommend eating salmon, tuna, black cod (which all contain some vitamin D) or any other fish or seafood generally, because of their higher toxic mercury content.
For these reasons, and particularly because appropriate levels of vitamin D are so essential to the health of the human organism, Wilson recommends taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement. Experts, he says, generally regard 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily to be optimal for most adults, including pregnant women, he says. That works out to about 35 IU per pound of body weight, considerably more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). And children require a smaller dosage than adults. So, if you're unsure how much to give your child, consult your trusted healthcare practitioner, as it IS possible to overdose.