Teens and Vitamin D: Some dangerously deficient, study finds

Some North American adolescents have low levels of vitamin D, according to an article in the June issue of The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to information in the article, vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption and bone growth during childhood and adolescence. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is an unrecognized and common health problem among young adults, elderly persons and youths.

Catherine M. Gordon, MD, MSc, of Children’s Hospital Boston, and colleagues investigated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among 307 healthy adolescents (aged 11 to 18 years) recruited at an annual physical examination (between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2003) to undergo a blood test and nutrition and activity assessment.

The researchers found that 74 patients (24.1%) were vitamin D deficient, of whom 14 (4.6%) were severely vitamin D deficient. Using a broader definition of vitamin D deficiency, 129 patients (42%) were vitamin D insufficient. The researchers also found that season, ethnicity, milk and juice consumption, body mass index and physical activity were significant predictors of vitamin D insufficiency.

The researchers conclude: “Vitamin D deficiency was present in many US adolescents in this urban clinic-based sample. The prevalence was highest in African American teenagers and during winter, although the problem seems to be common across sex, season, and ethnicity.”

JAMA, June 7, 2004