By Larissa Marulli, Moms
New research has shown that Black and Hispanic youth have much lower levels of vitamin D than their Caucasian peers. A vitamin D deficiency can cause serious health problems in childhood and adulthood. From the University of Houston College of Nursing, a new study explored the deficiency of the “sunshine” vitamin and why children of color are much more likely to be deficient in vitamin D, and what can be done about it.
A news release from the University of Houston revealed that 61% of Black and Hispanic children are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. The number of those deficient grows the younger the children are. Vitamin D is naturally produced by our bodies when we absorb sunlight through our skin. Children of color have darker skin and don’t absorb the sun as easily which is just one of the reasons why Black and Hispanic kids are more likely to be deficient. Shainy Varghese, an associate professor of nursing at the University of Houston was a part of this study where she and her team looked at the data of 119 “ethnically diverse” children between the ages of 12 and 18 years old. Looking at their blood samples, they determined that children of color are more likely to vitamin D deficient.
A vitamin D deficiency indicates a higher likelihood of developing certain disorders or diseases such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Types of cancers
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Renal Disease
On the opposite end, when an individual has adequate levels of vitamin D, they’re more likely to have a healthy immune system, mood stabilization, and lowers the risk of the above diseases. Researchers also did identify socio-economic factors as well that play a role in children’s health. A lack of access to healthcare, proper food and nutrition as well as recreational activities and outdoor space can all contribute to lower vitamin D levels.
For those lacking in vitamin D, there are daily supplements that can be taken to make up the balance. Researchers hope that this study will help nurses and doctors pay more attention to vitamin D levels and be ready with resources for families who need them. Many can underestimate the benefits of keeping up with regular blood work and our own personal vitamin levels.
These tests are all a part of preventative care, and it’s important to track these levels even in our children. Vitamin levels can be regulated with some extra care and it’s well worth it.