Vitamin D-deficient kids may benefit from supplementation, according to the results of a new study published in the journalPediatrics. The new report found that such children had fewer colds during the winter.
To test whether consuming more vitamin D can actually reduce a child’s risk of coming down with a cold, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston looked at nearly 250 third- and fourth-graders from a high latitude Mongolian city known for its extremely cold temperatures. At the study’s onset, the children had an average vitamin D blood concentration of 7 ng/ml — far below the deficiency level of 20 ng/ml.
The children were split up into two groups: One half received daily milk fortified with vitamin D, while the other half received unfortified milk. After three months, the children’s parents were interviewed about their child’s frequency of colds, and the researchers found that kids receiving vitamin D supplementation had 50 percent fewer upper respiratory infections.
Unlike in Mongolia, however, many foods in the U.S are fortified with vitamin D — yet 20 percent of children under the age of 12 still have a vitamin D deficiency. This may also be due to the fact that more kids today are spending time indoors playing video games instead of being out in the sun, which is a major source of vitamin D.
ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava also notes that the use of sunscreens can prevent the formation of vitamin D in the skin of the user. “It’s amazing that there’s now so much research being done on the various effects of inadequate levels of vitamin D,” she says. “And now here’s one more possible problem.”