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When I run comprehensive blood tests on patients, it is very common I find a deficiency in Vitamin D. According to two new studies published this week in the journal Pediatrics highlighted by cnn.com, a “whopping 70 percent of American kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D, and such youngsters tend to have higher blood pressure and lower levels of good cholesterol than their peers.”

Key Points:

  • The study looked at 6,000 people ages 1 to 21 and evaluated their Vitamin D level.
  • Vitamin D is made in the body when exposed to sunlight  — 10 to 15 minutes a day is all you need.
  • “Children with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to have high blood pressure and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein, also known as good cholesterol — two factors that are considered major risk factors for heart disease later in life.”
  • Low vitamin-D levels also had higher levels of parathyroid hormone than their counterparts with adequate vitamin D in their blood.
  • Those most at risk for a vitamin-D deficiency  were: “older, female, obese, drank milk less than once a week, and spent more than four hours a day watching TV, playing video games, or working on a computer.”

Parents should make sure their kids eat foods rich in Vitamin D.  If their diet isn’t rich enough in Vitamin D, they should consider supplementing with Vitamin D, especially if lab tests show low levels.  Also, parents should help their children get at least 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure daily without sunscreen. “Set your watch and then apply sunscreen after 15 minutes,” Melamed says. Some children, including those in high-risk groups, may need to be screened to check for low vitamin-D levels.

Vitamin D deficiency dramatically increases the risk for serious disease as children hit their 20s and 30s, therefore this is a serious issue that can easily be prevented.