Vitamin D Deficiency in Childhood Linked to Behavioral Problems in New Study

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Ann Arbor, Michigan—Children who are vitamin D deficient during their elementary school years are more likely to develop externalizing behavior problems—such as aggressiveness and rule-breaking behaviors—than children with higher levels of vitamin D, according to new research from the University of Michigan.

Low levels of the protein that transports vitamin D in blood were linked to more aggressive behavior and anxious/depressed symptoms, too, according to a press release regarding the study.

In 2006, Eduardo Villamor, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and a team of researchers recruited 3,202 children aged 5-12 years old into a cohort study in Bogotá, Columbia, through a random selection from primary public schools. The investigators obtained information on the children’s daily habits, maternal education level, weight and height, food insecurity, and socioeconomic status. Researchers also took blood samples.

Six years later, the investigators conducted follow-up interviews with one-third of the participants. They performed the vitamin D analyses on 273 of these participants.

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Villamor, lead author of the study, said in the release: “Children who have vitamin D deficiency during their elementary school years appear to have higher scores on tests that measure behavior problems when they reach adolescence.” He added that vitamin D deficiency has been associated with other mental health problems in adulthood, but few studies have taken place in adolescence.

The authors acknowledged that their study had several limitations, including a lack of baseline behavioral measures, but also noted that their results indicate a need for additional studies involving neurobehavioral outcomes and vitamin D deficiency.

Related: Vitamin D Market Projected to Grow at CAGR of 7%

1 COMMENT

  1. The key to optimizing vitamin D levels is regular, non-burning sun exposure, which can stimulate the skin to produce as much as 2,000 IU of vitamin D in 20 minutes of midday sun. Sunlight is also a great mood elevator.
    Sun exposure also does so much more than just produce vitamin D. Here are some facts:
    •Seventy-five percent of melanomas occurs on areas of the body that are seldom or never exposed to sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Multiple sclerosis (MS) is highest in areas of little sunlight, and virtually disappears in areas of year-round direct sunlight.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as sun avoiders.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun. •Sun exposure decreases heart disease risk.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood.
    •Those persons who spend many hours daily outdoors have only 1/50 the risk of Parkinson’s disease! •For each death caused by diseases associated with sun exposure, there are 328 deaths caused by diseases associated with sun deprivation.
    •Sun exposure increases the production of BDNF, essential to nerve function.
    •Sun exposure can produce as much as 20,000 IU of vitamin D in 20 minutes of full-body sun exposure. •In the U.S. vitamin D deficiency in children has increased by 83 times during a 14 year period. That is likely due to indoor living and sunscreen use. More information: Sunlightinstitute.org, and read Dr. Marc Sorenson’s book, Embrace the Sun.

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