Vitamin D and teenagers

March 11, 2009 3:50:31 PM PDT
There is new information about problems that teenagers can suffer later in life if they don't get enough vitamin D now. This is according to two separate studies released Wednesday. The first was presented at an American Heart Association conference. The report says it's not only our bones that benefit.

Teenagers know they need vitamin D to help make bones healthy and strong. Vitamin D, which comes from sources es like milk, salmon and sunlight, is necessary for bone growth.

But what about the cardiovascular system?

The researchers analyzed surveys of 3,500 young people, ages 12 to 19, to see if deficiency during adolescence might also put them at increased risk of heart disease.

The findings were that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were more than twice as likely to have high blood pressure and high blood sugar and almost four times more likely to have metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors.

"The thing that surprised me more was how strong these associations were in terms of vitamin D deficiency associated with almost four times the risk of metabolic syndrome among adolescents," said Dr. Jared Reis, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "I think it's quite alarming."

But doctors are not yet recommending supplementation. However, vitamin D-rich foods and activities should be highly encourage amongst teens.

"Vitamin D is great for bones, and it's also been recently shown to be useful for the muscles of adolescent girls," the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Ellen Rome said. "So it's helping the muscles that support those bones."

Improving the muscles of young girls is another benefit just shown in a study from the University of Manchester in England.

Girls who had the higher levels of vitamin D were shown to be be better at jumping and other activities that require muscle force.

Those who were deficient in the vitamin, according to their blood samples, scored lower on the series of jumping activities the girls were put through.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has doubled the amount of vitamin D that children and teenagers need. We all need now 400 units of vitamin D each day, which is the equivalent of four glasses of fortified milk or a multi-vitamin.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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