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Children Not Getting Enough Vitamin D, Study Concludes

More than 60 percent of children have "insufficient" levels of Vitamin D, a study published by the journal Pediatrics concluded on Monday. Gwen Ifill reports.

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    Finally tonight, new concerns about whether children are getting enough Vitamin D. Two studies in the journal Pediatrics found that 70 percent of those under the age of 21 fall short and linked low levels of Vitamin D to high blood pressure, low blood sugar, and other complications.

    Dr. Michal Melamed of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is the lead author for one of the studies, and she joins us now.

    Welcome, Dr. Melamed.

    DR. MICHAL MELAMED, Albert Einstein College of Medicine: Thank you. Good evening.


    So, tell us, what is the value of Vitamin D?


    So, Vitamin D — it's important to know that Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. It's a hormone. And so it actually plays a very important role in the body.

    Vitamin D is known classically for making strong bones, so people who have Vitamin D deficiency — and kind of the ultimate Vitamin D deficiency is rickets — have very weak bones, and that can lead to deformity. The kids with rickets have bowed legs, and that can lead to easy fractures.


    Rickets is a very — pardon me — Rickets is a very old-fashioned disease. We haven't heard of that in years. Why now are we hearing about Vitamin D deficiency? And how is it manifesting itself?


    So, it's very interesting. The reason why we did this study was because there's actually been many case reports recently in the medical literature showing that there are some kids in the United States that are developing rickets, which, like you said, we thought had gone away.

    We think that there are several things that have been causing this resurgence of rickets. The big things are that I think kids are probably drinking less milk, kids are spending less time outdoors, and the time outdoors that they're spending, they have sunscreen on, and so they don't get the UVB radiation that you need to make Vitamin D, and kids are not actually taking as many supplements as they did years ago.