Kids Need More Sunshine, Vitamin D

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — We know that Vitamin D in adults is important. A lack of the supplement can lead to soft bones, weak muscles and even some forms of cancer. Now researchers are finding that a lack of Vitamin D in children is leading to problems.

They call it the sunshine vitamin, because our main source of it comes from the sun’s rays.

Vitamin D is important for our bodies, because it builds strong bones; helps keep the heart healthy, and fights infection by boosting the immune system.

If adults don’t get enough vitamin D, they can suffer from all kinds of illnesses, including muscle weakness, osteoarthritis, and heart disease.

But what happens if children have a vitamin D deficiency?

Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital tested the vitamin D levels in 511 children who were admitted to their pediatric intensive care unit for various reasons, over a year’s time.

They found 40% of those children had a vitamin D deficiency.

They discovered youngsters suffering from vitamin D deficiency became more severely ill compared to children who had enough vitamin D.

However, researchers found to their surprise that children with infections did not have a lower vitamin D level than other critically ill children. They also found vitamin D deficiency was less common in younger patients; non-Hispanic white patients and in children taking supplements of vitamin D

Because vitamin D level differed in critically ill children, depending on their illnesses, study authors recommended that severely ill youngsters admitted to the hospital should be screen for risk factors, caused by vitamin D deficiency.

Other than sunshine, there are several food sources for vitamin D. Fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are sources. Egg yolks, cheese and beef liver also offer a good amount of vitamin D. You can also buy vitamin D-fortified milk.