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.

More Praise for Fish Oil

We already know that a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids from fish is linked to heart health, better digestion and healthy brain function. Now new evidence shows that eating more fish-derived Omega-3s might help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a condition that affects nearly 2 million older adults every year in the United States and causes a loss of vision due to damage to the retina.

Published in the journal Ophthalmology, findings from a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University show that older adults who eat one or more servings of fish weekly tend to have lower rates of AMD. Not only that, but regular fish eaters are 60 percent less likely to have advanced AMD than those who consume fish less than once a week. Scientists believe that the natural properties in fish-derived Omega-3s help to nourish and protect the delicate tissues of the eye.

While more research is planned to further investigate the role of Omega-3s and eye health, experts recommend increasing your intake of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna to get the health benefits of fish-derived Omega-3s. For those who don’t like fish, a daily fish oil supplement provides a great alternative—just remember to look for a highly concentrated formula with lipase, a powerful fat-digesting enzyme that helps your body break down and use the healthy oils.