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Recently the FDA announced plans to update the current Nutrition Facts label, and one of the things health experts hope to see is more clarification about the amount of total and added sugars in our food. Now, the World Health Organization says our daily sugar intake should amount to only 5 percent of our total calories—half of what they recommended previously. It seems the sweet stuff’s bad reputation is finally catching up to it.

According to WHO officials, the exorbitant amount of sugar consumed in the United States is contributing to poor nutrition, weight gain, obesity (and obesity-related health problems), and the development of dental diseases—treatment for which soaks up a large portion of the national health budget.

“I applaud the WHO for tightening up their recommendations on added sugar intake,” says ReNew Life founder and natural digestive care expert Brenda Watson, C.N.C. “A reduction of sugar intake is a step in the right direction. But honestly, I believe added sugar has no place in a healthy diet. Overconsumption of sugary foods, along with foods high in refined and starchy carbohydrates, is a major—if not the major—contributor to chronic disease. And if you have ever experienced sugar cravings (who hasn’t?), you know that there is a fine line between ‘just one bite’ and ‘just ate the whole cake/pint of ice cream/box of cookies.’”

The new draft guideline, currently online and available for public comment until the end of the month, recommends a reduction to below 5% of our total energy intake per day for an adult of normal Body Mass Index (BMI)—equal to about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar daily. However, that means our average sugar intake would have to drop by two-thirds, according to a recent FOX News article.

The WHO’s last attempt to revise its sugar guidelines came in 2002, when the proposal to cut sugar consumption to less than 10% of our daily calories evoked a less-than-sweet reaction from the U.S. sugar industry. However, the more we learn about sugar and its harmful effects on the body, the more health experts are taking steps to increase awareness and encourage healthier eating habits.

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Kids, Teens and Vitamin D

Vitamin D can be called something of a wonder nutrient with countless studies linking inadequate vitamin D levels to poor health. More studies are showing that supplementing with vitamin D promotes immune, bone, and overall health—simply put, the body needs vitamin D to properly carry out many metabolic functions. What’s more, new research on this topic is revealing that the benefits of proper vitamin D levels hold true for children and teens as well as adults.

The Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting highlighted two studies showing the benefits of vitamin D and the very important role it plays in raising healthy kids today:

  • Researchers in one of the studies learned that a deficiency of vitamin D may be linked to early puberty in girls. This suggests that supplementing girls with vitamin D may help delay early puberty. The study concentrated on 110 girls age 7-10. Thirty-five of these girls were experiencing early puberty (before the age of 8). Of these thirty-five girls, 44% showed a severe deficiency in vitamin D while only 21% of girls who entered puberty at a normal age showed a vitamin D deficiency.  Sim Sum Kim, MD, PhD, and lead researcher on the study, stated, “Our results suggest that vitamin D may inhibit early pubertal onset and/or the rapid progression of puberty.”
  • The other study focused on the link between vitamin D and obesity in children. Of the 86 children age 10-18 who participated in the study, 54 of them were overweight or obese. Researchers discovered that the more obese these children were, the lower their vitamin D and adiponectin levels (an important protein that helps regulate blood sugar and fatty acids) and the higher their leptin levels (a hormone linked to appetite and body weight). These obese children also showed higher markers for allergies and inflammation. Researchers concluded that these problems seemed to depend at least in part on the deficiency of vitamin D in these children and that supplementing kids with vitamin D could help mediate allergy and obesity concerns.

Researchers continue to link condition after condition to a deficiency of vitamin D. The good news is a deficiency is easy to detect through a test your family doctor can provide. Getting a baseline for where your family’s vitamin D levels are is proving to be an important health point for optimizing our children’s health now and as they grow.

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