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Originally published September 8 2008

Teens Should Increase Vitamin D Intake by 1000 Percent to Avoid Deficiency, Say Researchers

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The vitamin D recommendations for older children should be raised by 10 times, according to a study conducted by researchers from the American University of Beirut-Medical Center in Lebanon, and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

"Our research reveals that vitamin D, at doses equivalent to 2,000 IUs a day, is not only safe for adolescents, but it is actually necessary for achieving desirable vitamin D levels," lead researcher Ghada El-Haff Fuleihan said.

Currently, the U.S. recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 200 IU per day for children. But the researchers hypothesized that because of their rapid skeletal growth, children may actually need much higher levels of the vitamin than even adults do.

Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone growth and health. Deficiency in children can lead to the bone softening disease rickets, and may contribute to osteoporosis risk in adults.

To test their hypothesis, researchers first gave 10 girls and 15 boys between the ages of 10 and 17 a weekly vitamin D dose of 14,000 IU - 10 times the recommended dose - for eight weeks. When none of the children exhibited any signs of vitamin D toxicity, the researchers deemed it safe to move on to a long-term study.

"Supplementation of children and adolescents with 2,000 IUs a day of vitamin D3 is well tolerated and safe," Fuleihan said. "This is particularly relevant in light of the increasingly recognized health benefits of vitamin D for adults and children."

In the long-term experiment, researchers gave 168 girls and 172 boys in the same age range either 1,400 IU or 14,000 IU per week for one year. They found that only the children being given 2,000 IU per day had vitamin D blood levels in the range considered optimal for adults.

The researchers noted that few studies have been conducted on the actual vitamin D needs of children and adolescents.

"Data on appropriate vitamin D levels in the pediatric age group are lacking," Fuleihan said. "This is a major obstacle to finding the right daily allowance to enhance musculoskeletal health."

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