Dr. Markus Thiel

Thiel: Study reiterates importance of vitamin D

Researchers find that low levels of vitamin D in childhood associated with increased carotid artery thickness almost 30 years later.

Last month, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism published an interesting paper regarding vitamin D levels in childhood and increased likelihood of developing atherosclerosis in adulthood.

The study was conducted by Dr. Markus Journal of the University of Turku, Finland.  He and his researchers found that low levels of vitamin D in childhood were associated with increased carotid artery thickness almost 30 years later, particularly in females.

There has been an overwhelming amount of compelling research citing the importance of vitamin D and the further enhancement of the immune system, especially during the months of less exposure to sunlight (October to March).  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition produced a study in May of 2010 that demonstrated clearly that children who had sufficient vitamin D levels have a market reduction in the number of colds and flu’s as opposed to those children that did not have sufficient vitamin D levels.  It is estimated that over 80% of individuals in this specific climate are vitamin D deficient.  One study cited that in the last five years, childhood deficiencies of vitamin D has increased by over 200%.

The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne stated that deficiencies in vitamin D and children can lead to other health problems including: a higher risk of bowel cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, problems with immunity (how the body fights infections) and autoimmune diseases (including diabetes).

In the last month study, the researchers examined data gathered from 2148 individuals in 1980.  The subjects were between the ages of three and 18 years.  Blood samples were taken once again at the 27 year follow-up, in 2007.  In his study, they performed ultrasound measurements of the left carotid artery in all of the subjects.

His analysis demonstrated that the girls in his study had significantly lower vitamin D levels than their counterparts, the boys in the study.  In addition, they found that there was more severe carotid artery narrowing in the females, but not in the males.  There was a correlated effect in the study, for instance, those in the 90th percentile of vitamin D deficiency developed significant adult risk ratios for atherosclerosis.

Though the study had several criticisms, claiming that it was merely an observational study, it was clear that the implications of the study provided enough evidence that further clinical studies need to be implemented with respect to vitamin D levels in children and cardiovascular health in later years.

The vitamin D is warm out the supplements that are on the radar today with respect to consideration and research.  I think it should be an important part of everybody’s supplement regime, especially during these winter months and especially with our children.

Dr. Markus Thiel is a Doctor of Chiropractic practicing in Kelowna.  Questions and comments may be sent to askdrthiel@shaw.ca