Low Vitamin D and Risk Factors in Teenagers

Do you have a teenager in your house? Just look for a person with ear buds in and their fingers furiously typing on a PDA. Call their name and they won’t answer – yep, that’s today’s teenager. Teens are pretty diverse just like the rest of us when it comes to nutrition. Some play close attention and even choose organic foods when possible while others consider fast food a daily dietary staple.

But, it’s time all teenagers take a closer look at their overall nutrition intake (I’m still perplexed as to why they don’t teach teens life skills in many schools – how to take care of their body, finances etc.). When I was that age, I didn’t know anyone who had high blood pressure or cholesterol. Today, however, it seems like teens are going to their school nurse with underlying symptoms due to a variety of chronic disease we typically associate with adulthood.

The latest health scare involves low circulating levels of vitamin D (a recent study found that 1/2 of black teenagers have low vitamin D levels; many others are at risk too, especially those teens that rarely get sunshine and don’t drink milk). In an examination of the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), researchers found that low vitamin D increased the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar and metabolic syndrome in teenagers.

If your teen has any of these conditions, they should probably have a RD take a close look at their diet or a physician draw their blood and test for their vitamin D level. If their levels are low, a physician or dietitian can suggest ways to enhance their vitamin D intake and ensure they are steering clear of many chronic diseases.

For more information on vitamin D and teenagers see:

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