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Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency found in alarming percentage of teenage girls

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: vitamin D deficiency, teenage girls, nutritional deficiencies


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(NewsTarget) A new study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood has found that more than 70 percent of British teenage girls are deficient in vitamin D -- an essential nutrient for proper growth and development.

Researchers from St. Mary's Hospital for Women and Children in Manchester studied around 50 15-year-old girls, of which 14 were white and 37 were non-white. Using blood samples and questionnaires about diet and sunlight exposure, researchers found that 73 percent of the girls were deficient in vitamin D.

"Vitamin D deficiency during childhood and adolescence might impair the acquisition of peak bone mass at the end of skeletal growth and maturation, thereby increasing the risk of osteoporatic fracture later in life," the researchers write.

Osteoporosis -- which affects more than 75 million people in the United States, Europe and Japan -- is a costly disease generally combated with dietary supplements. However, the simplest way to prevent the disease is to get adequate levels of natural sunlight exposure, which naturally produces vitamin D in the skin. The researchers say because 35 percent of an adult's peak bone mass is built up during puberty, it is essential for teenagers to get enough vitamin D to support healthy bone growth.

The researchers noted that the white girls in the study had higher levels of vitamin D than non-white girls, likely because of increased skin exposure and lighter skin pigmentation. Experts recommend that people with darker skin get more sunlight than light-skinned people, because it takes longer for dark skin to develop vitamin D.

"This finding is alarming not only because it shows such a high percentage of teenage girls are deficient in this essential nutrient," explained Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate and holistic nutritionist, "but also because health authorities like the American Cancer Society continue to scare people away from sunlight exposure with fear-mongering public service announcements that claim sunlight may kill you. In reality, sunlight exposure could save hundreds of millions of people from suffering the well-documented effects of vitamin D deficiency, which include osteoporosis, cancer, depression and calcium deficiency."

"Today, we are raising a generation of vitamin D deficient children and teenagers," Adams added. "And the future health care costs of such short-sighted public health policies are incalculable."

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