Get your children out in the sun, it's the doctor's order. Following last year's report recommending an increase in children's daily dosage of vitamin D, a new study shows that about nine percent of US children exhibit vitamin D levels so low, they can be considered deficient. Another 61 percent still show levels low enough to concern doctors. A lack of vitamin D — which can be obtained from direct sunlight, fortified milk, fatty fish, or fish liver oils — increases the risk of rickets, bone problems, heart disease, cholesterol issues, and diabetes. Among the groups with the lowest levels of vitamin D are girls, adolescents, and people with darker skin. According to the reports:
The researchers and others blamed the low levels on a combination of factors, including children spending more time watching television and playing video games instead of going outside, covering up and using sunscreen when they do go outdoors, and drinking more soda and other beverages instead of consuming milk and other foods fortified with Vitamin D.
To increase vitamin D levels, experts recommend 15 minutes of direct sunlight (unfiltered by sunscreen) three times a week, eating more fortified foods like bread, milk, and cereal, and ensuring that multivitamins contain vitamin D.