Sometimes reports like this appear to be sensationalized so lets take a look at the numbers first.
About 9 percent of those ages 1 through 21 — about 7.6 million children, adolescents and young adults — have Vitamin D levels so low they could be considered deficient, while an additional 61 percent — 50.8 million — have higher levels, but still low enough to be insufficient, according to the analysis of federal data being released Monday.
There are a couple of factors at work here which are combining to cause this problem.
- Children are not drinking sufficient quantities of milk or eating enough foods which contain Vitamin D. It is even more problematic if soda is being consumed instead of milk.
- Children are being slathered in sunscreen before being exposed to the sun. When skin is exposed to the sun, the body produces Vitamin D.
Parents need to make sure their children are receiving proper nutrition, including eating foods with Vitamin D. However, sun exposure is the ideal way to get sufficient Vitamin D, which is why it is commonly referred to as “the sunshine vitamin”.
It is true that being exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation may lead to cancer. As with almost everything else in the field of health and nutrition, moderation is key. Someone with fair skin may be fine with 15 minutes in the sun, but that number needs to be revised upwards if the individual has darker skin and also for the time of year.
In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer.
Enjoy your summer.