Vitamin D and Kids:
How Much Sun Should They Get
Milk and cereal grains are often fortified with vitamin D
Right after I coated my kid with SPF 70 sunscreen and dropped her off at camp this morning, I picked up the newspaper and read: "Millions of Children in U.S. Found to be Lacking Vitamin D."
Sunscreen was listed as a main culprit for the deficiency, which can put children at risk of developing high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart disease, and weak bones. Yikes!
I've been slathering on sunscreen so my pasty-white kid doesn't get skin cancer. But heart disease doesn't sound good, either.
The fact that increasing numbers of American children are lacking in vitamin D isn't new, but this latest report is the first nationwide assessment of D intake among kids, based on federal data. Nine percent of children up to age 21 were found to be seriously deficient in D (defined as less than 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood, a level at which a child might get bone-warping rickets). Another 61 percent, while they had higher blood levels of D (15 to 30 nanograms per milliliter), still had higher blood pressure and lower levels of good cholesterol.
Girls, teenagers, and children with darker skin are more likely to be lacking.
The main culprits?
More time indoors with video games and computers; less milk, which is fortified with vitamin D; and sunscreen.
So I quickly phoned
But being in the sun is the easiest and safest way to get vitamin D, because the skin makes the prohormone in response to sun exposure. It's impossible to get too much of it this way, unlike the vitamin in supplement form. Melamed recommends 10 to 15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen for children who can handle it.
"Parents know their children," she says. "If your child is very sun sensitive, obviously you don't want them to get a sunburn."
Since my child falls into that category, I'll be following Melamed's other advice: having her drink milk or orange juice fortified with vitamin D. But a child would have to drink a quart of milk to get the 400 IU currently recommended for children, and that's not happening in my house. So I'll be looking at vitamin D supplements, particularly when winter comes around.
If you're looking to find out more about vitamin D in food, check out my colleague
Although vitamin D can be toxic at high doses, the latest research suggests that kids and adults can take 5,000 IUs or more a day in supplement form without any ill effects.
Our skin can make far more than that when exposed to sunlight, but any excess we make gets broken down by the body and doesn't cause any harm.
After the IOM expert panel reviews the research, it most likely will raise the recommended levels of vitamin D, and that could mean more
foods being fortified with D, says
She has researched using vitamin D supplementation to prevents falls and fractures.
When these new recommendations will be issued and what they will be, however, is still unknown.
Principles of Conservative Prescribing: Do You Really Need All Those Pills
Harvard Health Letter
People who genuinely need medications should take them; indeed, getting people to take medications as prescribed is a persistent problem. But there's some questioning of prescribing practices these days, much of it inspired by a growing conviction that American health care has become too dependent on expensive medications.
The Swine Flu outbreak could peter out, like a 1976 swine flu outbreak did. Or the virus could spread easily from one person to the next, sparking a pandemic in which millions of people are infected. Here's the rundown on what we know so far, as well as the options for avoiding swine flu and for treating it if you get it.
Could Cigarette Smoking Ever Get Safer
Linda Geddes, New Scientist Magazine
Tobacco companies have begun "clinical trials" to assess whether a range of prototype "safer cigarettes" really do slash levels of toxic chemicals entering the body
Cholesterol - 10 Ways to Lower LDL and Raise HDL
January W. Payne
Your doctor tells you that your level of LDL -- the 'bad' type of cholesterol -- is too high, and, in a double whammy, he says that your level of HDL -- the 'good' cholesterol--is too low. Is there anything you can do to decrease the bad while increasing the good? There are steps you can take to accomplish this.
(c) 2009 U.S. News & World Report