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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Blog arrow DIABETIC KIDS LACK VITAMIN D
DIABETIC KIDS LACK VITAMIN D
January 2009, The Journal of Pediatrics
Almost 75% of children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes have insufficient levels of vitamin D, researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston report. A deficit in vitamin D can lead to bone problems later in life, especially among those with type 1 diabetes. Researchers suggest that supplements are needed to boost vitamin D levels. "We found in children with Type 1 diabetes a pretty significant level of vitamin D insufficiency -- much more than we had expected to find," said lead researcher Dr. Britta Svoren. Moreover, many children throughout the world without type 1 diabetes have vitamin D deficiency, Svoren said.

Diabetes is associated with a reduction in bone mineral density, which can make bones more fragile, Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of fracture in these children later in life. In addition, vitamin D may have a role in the risk for developing type 1 diabetes.

For the study, Svoren's team measured vitamin D levels in 128 children with Type 1 diabetes. The children were between 1.5 and 17.5 years old. The researchers found that 61% of the children had insufficient levels of vitamin D, and 15% had a deficiency in vitamin D, meaning their vitamin D levels were severely low. In fact, only 24% of the children had sufficient vitamin D levels. The lowest vitamin D levels were seen among the oldest children. Among adolescents, 85% had inadequate levels of the vitamin.

"One of the things that might be going on is that, for a lot of children and adolescents, the primary source of vitamin D is through vitamin D-fortified milk," Svoren said. "The problem is that a lot of teenagers with type 1 diabetes, rather than drinking milk, a lot of these individuals are probably drinking increased amounts of sugar-free colas."

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that vitamin D is important for all children. "A growing body of research suggests the importance of vitamin D in many aspects of health, far beyond the long-established role in bone development and preservation," Katz said. "But the role of vitamin D in bone health remains crucial, and perhaps that much more so in groups at high risk of bone-thinning and injury. Such groups include postmenopausal women, those with kidney disease, and children with type 1 diabetes."

I'm pleased to see so much awareness developing regarding Vitamin D and health. However, Both Katz and Svoren do a disservice by recommending 400IU Vitamin D daily. This is an absurdly small amount of Vitamin D. If they had proper training in nutrition they would know that, to replete Vitamin D properly and have it at therapeutic levels, a few thousand IUs per day would be necessary. Of course, correct testing could direct supplementation and help ensure creation of optimum levels.