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African Americans

90 Percent of African American Children Deficient in Vitamin D

Sunday, March 07, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: African Americans, vitamin D, health news


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(NaturalNews) As many as 90 percent of all black children may be deficient in vitamin D, according to a new analysis conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of Colorado-Denver and Massachusetts General Hospital, and published in the journal Pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics defines an adequate vitamin D blood level in children as 50 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L), but many researchers have begun to argue that 75 nmol/L are actually necessary for good health.

"There are a lot of studies demonstrating associations between low levels of vitamin D and a laundry list of poor health outcomes," lead researcher Jonathan Mansbach said.

Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone health and development, and guidelines for safe levels were originally set with those effects in mind. Yet new research suggests that higher levels may be necessary for the vitamin to help regulate the immune system and protect against cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and infection.

In the current study, researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which measured vitamin D blood levels of approximately 5,000 children between 2001 and 2006. The study participants were designed to comprise a nationally representative sample.

The researchers found that if 75 nmol/L is taken as the cutoff point, 92 percent of black children, 80 percent of non-black Hispanic children and more than two-thirds of all children have insufficient levels of the vitamin. Mansbach called the numbers "astounding."

"If 75 nmol/L or higher is eventually demonstrated to be the healthy normal level of vitamin D, then there is much more vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. than people realize," Mansbach said.

Even using the lower level of 50 nmol/L, a full 20 percent of children still had insufficient vitamin D levels. Nationally, this would translate into six million people.

Sun exposure is still considered the best source for vitamin D.

Sources for this story include: www.sfgate.com; www.eurekalert.org; www.nlm.nih.gov.

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