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Researchers at Boston-based Joslin Diabetes Center report that almost 75 percent of children and teens with type 1 diabetes lack sufficient vitamin D. As a result, they are susceptible to bone problems later in life, including an increased risk of bone fractures.
Only 24 percent of the young people studied had what researchers considered sufficient vitamin D levels. Sixty-one percent had "insufficient" levels of the vitamin, and 15 percent had a "deficiency," indicating that their levels of vitamin D were extremely low.
Most troubling to the researchers was that a full 85 percent of the adolescents in the study had "inadequate" levels of the vitamin. A lack of sufficient vitamin D can lessen bone density-already a condition associated with type 1-and increase bone fragility, making them more vulnerable to fracture.
One reason why older children may suffer from higher levels of vitamin D deficiency is that the vitamin is typically found in fortified milk. When children reach adolescence, they often quit drinking milk and begin consuming soft drinks or coffee instead.
As a result of their findings, the Joslin researchers recommend that all children, including teens, take daily multivitamins that include a minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D, try to consume at least some dairy products, and get exposure to natural sunlight.