Tag Archives: children

An 83-times increased risk of vitamin D deficiency in children since 2,000. An alarming pandemic!

A major research paper report in the medical journal, Pediatrics, has shown an alarming increase in vitamin D deficiency among children aged 0-17 years of age. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28159871 [1] The researchers use the word “exponential,” and indeed it is, increasing from 3.14 deficient children per 100,000 in the year 2000 to 261 per 100,000 in 2014. We can state that as an 83-times increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, or an 8,300% increase. Either way one states it, it is an alarming increase, and will lead to an overwhelming number of bone diseases and other maladies in the future. 

vitamin D deficiency

Why would such an increase take place?  

That is an easy question to answer. Parents are “protecting” their children from sun exposure by keeping them away from direct sunlight—either by neglecting to take them outside (or demanding they stay indoors)—or slathering them with sunscreens, which can reduce the skin’s production of vitamin D by as much as 99%.[2] In the 1930s, when the medical community had not yet bought into today’s sun phobia, the Department of Labor printed a pamphlet called Sun for Babies in which they made this statement: “Every mother who wishes her baby to have robust health should give him regular sun baths from early infancy until he is old enough to play in the sun himself. If the sun’s rays are to help the baby grow properly and to prevent rickets, they must fall directly on the skin and tan it.” That would not be popular advice today, and it is likely any parent practicing “baby tanning” would be arrested for child abuse. Since the 1930’s the dermatological profession has come a long way… in the wrong direction. This is not to say that all dermatologists are sending the wrong messages. In my new book, Embrace the Sun (scheduled for publication shortly), I draw from the research from several “enlightened” dermatologists who have given stern warnings to their colleagues who are spreading their destructive, anti-sun messages. In fact, the person who is writing the foreword is a dermatologist, and one of the top sunlight/vitamin D scientists in the world.

Another chilling result of robbing our children of sunlight is the dramatic increase in myopia. There are several studies proving this point, but I will mention only one here: This research showed the prevalence of myopia among Chinese children living in Singapore was 29.1%, whereas Chinese children living in Sydney, Australia, had a prevalence rate of only 3.3%. The children in Sydney spent about 13.8 hours per week outdoors compared to 3.05 hours in Singapore. In other words, the children who spent most of their lives indoors, had 9.5 times the risk of developing myopia![3] In addition, rickets is now making a comeback. After a century of knowing how to prevent this disastrous children’s disease, it is returning, and cases of rickets are reported as far south as Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.[4] If children are not allowed to play outside, their vitamin D levels will be no better than if they lived at the North Pole.

But what about future risk of melanoma? Melanoma risk has increased by 3000% since 1935 while outdoor activity has decreased by about 90%.[5] The advice to halt the increase in melanoma, which is given by the melanoma foundations of course, is stay out of the sun and use more sunscreen. That is about as counterintuitive as it gets.

vitamin D deficiency

Protect your children from excessive sun exposure by using clothing and shade when they have had enough. Also be sure that the kids gradually and safely develop a protective tan. Never burn!

By Marc Sorenson, Ed.D. An advocate for the sun…Fighting vitamin D deficiency.

[1] Basatemur E, Horsfall L, Marston L, Rait G, Sutcliffe A.  Trends in the Diagnosis of Vitamin D Deficiency. Pediatrics. 2017 Mar;139(3).

[2] Matsuoka LY, Ide L, Wortsman J, MacLaughlin JA, Holick MF. Sunscreens suppress cutaneous vitamin D3 synthesis.  Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 1987; 64:1165-68.

[3] Rose KA, Morgan IG, J, Kifley A, Huynh S, Smith W, Mitchell P. Outdoor activity reduces the prevalence of myopia in children. Ophthalmology 2008 Aug;115(8):1279-85.

[4]Weisberg P, Scanlon KS, Li R, Cogswell ME. Nutritional rickets among children in the United States: review of cases reported between 1986 and 2003. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80(6 Suppl):1697S-705S.

[5] Melanoma International Foundation, 2007 Facts about melanoma. Sources: National Cancer Institute 2007 SEER Database, American Cancer Society’s 2007 Facts and Figures, The Skin Cancer Foundation, The American Academy of Dermatology.

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Bone Weakness in Sunny Areas: Why?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD    Sunlight Institute…

Research from Singapore, a very sunny country, demonstrated that 57% of older adults with hip fractures were vitamin D deficient.[1] The researchers note that in Western countries with seasonal winters, D deficiency is common due to the reduction in sunlight. But on measuring serum vitamin D in fracture patients in sunny Singapore, they found that 57.5% were suffering deficiency and 34.5% were suffering insufficiency. Only 8% of the patients had normal vitamin D levels.

One might ask why people residing in a sunny, predominantly tropical climate would have such a high degree of vitamin D deficiency and consequently high fracture risk. Further study found the answer: Most of the people who suffered fractures had been housebound and had little sun exposure. The authors of the paper made the following statement: “Another factor was Malay ethnicity (dark skin, which inhibits vitamin D production), and clothing habits that prevented sun exposure.”

The authors of the paper concluded with this statement: “Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are common in patients with hip fracture in Singapore. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with being housebound and those of Malay ethnicity. Clothing habits resulting in reduced sunlight exposure may increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency.”

The same pattern of high D deficiency also exists among youth in some sunny countries; in Qatar deficiency is common. [2] Sixty-eight percent of the children there are deficient and the girls are especially likely to be deficient. Low duration of time spent outdoors is a major predictor of deficiency, and the children who are deficient suffer a greater incidence of rickets, fractures, and gastroenteritis.

And finally, I would like to remind the readers of research from Spain that I have cited on various occasions. Women who spend their time indoors are about 11 times more likely to have a fracture as those who regularly seek the sun.[3]

A major message is this: If the sunlight is all around you and you don’t expose yourself to it, it will do you no good. You may a well live in the Arctic Circle.

Carefully embrace the sun and save your bones.

[1] Ramason R, Selvaganapathi N, Ismail NH, Wong WC, Rajamoney GN, Chong MS. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with hip fracture seen in an orthogeriatric service in sunny Singapore. Geriatr Orthop Surg Rehabil. 2014 Jun;5(2):82-6

[2] Bener A, Al-Ali M, Hoffmann GF. High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in young children in a highly sunny humid country: a global health problem. Minerva Pediatr. 2009 Feb;61(1):15-22.

[3] Larrosa M, Casado E, Gómez A, Moreno M, Berlanga E, Ramón J, Gratacós J. Vitamin D deficiency and related factors in patients with osteoporotic hip fracture.  Med Clin (BARC) 2008;130:6-9.

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Summer Sunlight Exposure increases Growth in Children

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute..

Just when one thinks that there is nothing new that sunlight can do, new research belies that idea. It has now been shown that among children who growth-hormone deficient, and are being treated for that deficiency, growth is more rapid during summer months.[1] In a one-year study using 118 children from 14 countries as subjects, growth was measured and compared to the amount of sunlight received by the children. Those who were exposed to more sunlight had faster growth. The investigators also implicated a role for circadian-clock pathways in influencing growth (see my previous blogs on the importance of sunlight in correctly setting the circadian clock).

Although this research was claimed to be the first to demonstrate an influence of sunlight on accelerated growth among children being treated with growth hormone, another investigation from 2013 came to the same conclusion. [2] Others have also observed that children seem to grow more rapidly in summer. [3] [4] [5]

We want our children to have reasonable rates of growth, and the vitamin D produced by sunlight may produce larger and stronger bones. Or, it may be another factor such as nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphins or other less studied photoproducts. Whatever the mechanism, we now know that sunlight has one more critically important effect on human health, this time for our children.

[1] De Leonibus C, Chatelain P, Knight C, Clayton P, Stevens A. Effect of summer daylight exposure and genetic background on growth in growth hormone-deficient children. Pharmacogenomics J. 2015 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print].

[2] Dorothy I Shulman, James Frane, and Barbara Lippe. Is there “seasonal” variation in height velocity in children treated with growth hormone? Data from the National Cooperative Growth Study. Int J Pediatr Endocrinol. 2013; 2013(1): 2.

[3] Marshall WA. Evaluation of growth rate in height over periods of less than one year. Arch Dis Child. 1971;46:414–420.

[4] Lee PA. Independence of seasonal variation of growth from temperature change. Growth. 1980;44:54–57.

[5] Joseph Gigante, M.D, Banderbilt Children’s hospital, Nashville, Tennessee. http://www.parenting.com/article/way-kids-grow.

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