LatinaLista — If having the biggest rates of childhood obesity and diabetes weren’t enough, now low-income Latinos and African Americans have something else to worry about — not getting enough Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is an invisible benefit from being out in the sun but with so many kids opting to play soccer from their living room couches via video consoles rather than sweating it out on the field, young children and teens just aren’t getting Vitamin D for their bodies — and that could spell a lot of trouble as they get older.
According to researchers, who published their findings about Vitamin D levels in children in the March issue of Pediatrics, 26 percent of African American children and 18 percent of Latino children suffer from low levels of Vitamin D.
Low vitamin D levels in U.S. adolescents are strongly associated with hypertension and hyperglycemia and metabolic syndrome, which can lead to type 2 diabetes,” said Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist and exercise physiologist from Connecticut. “Parents must be informed of the need for vitamin D in children and the consequences of low vitamin D levels.
Also, children with low levels of Vitamin D are more at risk for bone disease and infections.
Yet, before parents think they’ll just shove their kids out the door for 15 minutes of soaking up the rays — the recommended amount of time to spend in the sun to get sufficient Vitamin D — it seems children with darker skin have a built-in disadvantage to being able to “soak” up Vitamin D.
Darker skin acts like a natural sunscreen. Researchers say that the ability to make vitamin D is reduced from 80 to 99 percent in darker skin.
So what are families to do to ensure their children and teens get the right amount of Vitamin D — and it should be mentioned that more and more adults are suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency too.
1. If a person can, drink milk fortified with Vitamin D.
2. Or take Vitamin D supplements.
3. Get out in the sun for at least 15 minutes every day — but always wear sunscreen too.
“Experts currently recommend intakes of between 200 to 400 international units (IU) per day of vitamin D…
“Vitamin D is not in many foods. “Foods fortified with vitamin D include ready-to-eat cereals, milk and some yogurts. Vitamin D is naturally found in fish such as salmon.”
However, the overriding priority for everyone is to get their Vitamin D levels checked by their doctor. From there, it can be decided how much more Vitamin D somebody needs.
It just goes to show how much our bodies depend on something that can’t even be seen but can be felt as the body ages.