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Current vitamin D recommendations may not be sufficient for optimal bone health

Posted:  Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Is your child banking on adequate sunshine vitamin for strong bones? May be not! Research at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed that the current daily recommended intake (600 international units) of vitamin D for children is insufficient for adequate bone health.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the study recruited 84 black and 73 white 8 to 14 year-old children. The participants were randomly assigned to consume 1,000 international units of vitamin D3 or a placebo for six months. An initial assessment followed by periodic blood tests was carried out to monitor the 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and other markers of bone health.

The baseline assessment of all children showed that the average vitamin D levels was suboptimal (less than 20 ng/mL), especially in the black children. This is because darker complexion implies higher melanin concentration in the skin. Large amounts of melanin block the ultraviolet segment of sunlight, a component that stimulates vitamin D synthesis in the skin.

At the end of the supplementation period, not only did the biomarkers of bone turnover remain unchanged, only 14% of the children (with suboptimal vitamin D levels) showed vitamin D levels above 30ng/mL while an astounding 39% displayed levels below 20ng/mL.

On a concluding note, Dr. Rajakumar, the lead investigator said, "It may be important to revisit these recommendations, especially since the higher dose of vitamin D used in this study was safe and did not appear to lead to any side effects."

The blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D is considered the gold standard for vitamin D status. The fact that guidelines for adequate blood vitamin D levels differ (Institute of Medicine recommends >20ng/mL while Endocrine Society recommends 30 ng/mL for optimal bone health) has created a research gap.

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