Share on Facebook
August 3, 2009
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.