Researchers at Boston-based Joslin Diabetes Center report that almost 75 percent of children and teens with type 1 diabetes lack sufficient vitamin D. As a result, they are susceptible to bone problems later in life, including an increased risk of bone fractures.
Their report, published in the January 2009 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics, measured vitamin D levels in 128 children with type 1 who ranged in age from 18 months to 17-1/2 years old.
Only 24 percent of the young people studied had what researchers considered sufficient vitamin D levels. Sixty-one percent had “insufficient” levels of the vitamin, and 15 percent had a “deficiency,” indicating that their levels of vitamin D were extremely low.
Most troubling to the researchers was that a full 85 percent of the adolescents in the study had “inadequate” levels of the vitamin. A lack of sufficient vitamin D can lessen bone density-already a condition associated with type 1-and increase bone fragility, making them more vulnerable to fracture.
One reason why older children may suffer from higher levels of vitamin D deficiency is that the vitamin is typically found in fortified milk. When children reach adolescence, they often quit drinking milk and begin consuming soft drinks or coffee instead.
As a result of their findings, the Joslin researchers recommend that all children, including teens, take daily multivitamins that include a minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D, try to consume at least some dairy products, and get exposure to natural sunlight.