A concerning number of teenagers in the U.K. have inadequate levels of vitamin D, a new study claims.
Academics from the University of Surrey in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Copenhagen and University College Cork have found that many adolescents aren’t getting enough of the vitamin through diet or exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin D optimises calcium absorption and therefore plays an essential role in bone mineralisation and skeletal development. Since most rapid bone growth occurs during the adolescent years, it is vital that teenagers have sufficient levels of vitamin D in order to achieve peak bone mass by late adolescence.
Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency, and previous studies have shown that vitamin D levels decrease during puberty, possibly because teenagers are less likely to spend time outdoors than younger children.
In the trial, 110 male and female adolescents were given varying levels of vitamin D3 supplements, while some were given a placebo supplement, for a 20 week period during winter.
The findings showed that vitamin D intakes of between 10 and ~30 ug/day are required to maintain an adequate level of vitamin D and to avoid deficiency.
Lead author Dr Taryn Smith said that vitamin D plays an essential role in bone growth during adolescent years and is believed to contribute to reducing age-related bone loss in later life. Her team is also investigating further ways vitamin levels can be boosted in this demographic.
“The project is investigating ways of improving vitamin D intake through the diet – and since it is difficult to obtain vitamin D intakes of over 10 ug/day from food sources alone, (we’re) looking at ways of fortifying our food to improve the vitamin D levels of the U.K. population as a whole,” she said.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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