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Vitamin D Deficiency Common in Infants and Toddlers

Many healthy infants and toddlers have low levels of vitamin D, according to a report released in June 2008 in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. About a third of these children had some evidence of reduced bone mineral content on X-rays.

Global research has shown that people around the world have low levels of vitamin D. In North America, an estimated 60 percent or more of the population has low vitamin D levels ? both in the older and younger populations.

There have been many reasons suggested for this, including decreased outdoor activity (especially in older children) and more air pollution. Even vitamin D fortified foods, including many dairy products, aren?t helping; in fact, in many places, the amount of vitamin D from dietary sources is considered too insignificant to have an effect on people?s vitamin D levels. And for the older population, our bodies reduce the amount of vitamin D we produce with age.

Vitamin D is crucial for the body to metabolize calcium and it promotes mineralization of teeth and bones; studies have also shown that it has an huge impact on many other body functions, including blood lipids level, plaque formation (called thrombogenesis), the ability of the inside cells in blood vessels to regenerate, and the way in which smooth muscle grows.

To make sure you and your child are both getting enough vitamin D, have your doctor test your blood.

Parents should talk to their child?s pediatrician before stocking up on vitamin D supplements, because there are different dosages and types on the market. Instead, many doctors advise simply spending more time outdoors ? 10-15 minutes? exposure to sunlight without sunscreen will do the trick, most experts say. Just be sure to go outside before the hottest part of the day, from around noon until 4 p.m.

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